The gradual emergence of the UK and other leading economies from the worst of the pandemic has suddenly left an apparent shortage of a lot of things: HGV drives, gas and shipping containers among them. This has led to warnings of empty shelves in supermarkets and even Christmas being cancelled.

For that reason, it may be heartening to learn that in fact there seem to be sufficient containers and food to enable a new development to take place at Harwell in Oxford.

Known as DiSH, It will be situated in the Harwell Science and Innovation Park, the Oxford Mail reports.

Featuring half a dozen modified shipping containers, the development will bring a selection of street food to the site. As the paper notes, this is the kind of thing that is normally associated more with big cities than a small settlement located between Didcot and Wantage, even if the publication was making a rather ambitiously parochial statement by describing Oxford as a “big city”.

Speaking to the paper, development director for DiSH Thibault Bouquet de Jolinière said:  “This has been such an inspiring project to work on, bringing the best of street food into the rather unconventional setting that are – shipping containers!“

He added: “We cannot wait to introduce you to our array of six food vendors, bringing flavours, vibrance, and a great atmosphere to the amazing place that is Harwell Campus.”

Chief executive of Harwell Campus Stuart Grant was equally enthusiastic, commenting: “We want DiSH to be a meeting point where people can get together, have a good catch up and enjoy amazing food and drink.”

With the cluster of re-used shipping containers offering Indian food, burgers, vegan dishes, pastries, coffee and cocktails, the initiative is certainly going to provide something very novel in Harwell.

The use of recycled shipping containers as places for food and other forms of retail is certainly not new and however ambitious the local paper might be in describing Oxford as such, there are certainly are some big city developments that fit this description.

Good examples include Hatch in central Manchester, which features 30 containers in a space under the Mancunian Way flyover, selling a range of foods and also clothes offered by artisan traders. Another is the CARGO 2 arrangement of containers at Bristol’s Wapping Wharf. Its traders include the Choux Box Patisserie, the arrival of which was reported by Business Live this month.

Of course, it isn’t just serving food that recycled shipping containers can be used for, which is just as well amid all the talk of shortages.

Earlier this month, the Yorkshire Post reported on how “novice farmer” Ben Conway, who lives near Pocklington in East Yorkshire, is using a shipping container to grow fast-maturing seeds and herbs to supply vegetables to top restaurants. Some of these can grow in just eight to ten days.

Mr Conway is using the unusual methods to fulfil an ambition to be a farmer that he developed on visits to a farm run by his uncles and aunts in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland.

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