Grow It York Brings Vertical Farming to Community Container Park

LettUs Grow, an indoor farming technology provider from Bristol, have teamed up with the University of York, & Spark:York to create “Grow It York”: a vertical, community farm at the heart of a vibrant container park in Piccadilly, York. The container park, called Spark:York, is a Community Interest Company using shipping containers to provide spaces for local restaurants, retailers and entrepreneurs.

The farm forms part of the FixOurFood programme, a leading food systems research collaboration led by the University of York , funded for 5 years through the Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund. FixOurFood aims to transform Yorkshire food networks and develop regenerative systems that will create a fairer and more sustainable future for food production.

Grow It York is an indoor urban community farm in a shipping container, supplying hyper-local produce to the surrounding businesses and locals. It was built to investigate how vertical farming can play a role in creating positive changes within our food systems, while also benefiting our health, environment and economy.

The project’s mission is to prove that healthy food is about more than nutrition: “Our food must come from a healthy planet supporting biodiversity and vigorous ecosystems. It should enrich the communities where it is grown and eaten, and help local economies to thrive.”

LettUs Grow is supplying the vertical farming technology and their Growing Specialist, Billy Rodgers, is also providing on-site growing training. Billy said, “The Grow It York project has a really interesting range of teams involved. The collaboration between work in technology development, project feasibility research & real-world use of vertically farmed produce is important because food sustainability can’t be addressed by any one thing – you need to look at the whole food supply chain. It’s been really great being able to provide growing training for Grow It York. It’s exciting to see how projects like these can make learning about growing food more accessible to those in cities.”

LettUs Grow’s aeroponic technology is an eco-friendly method of growing crops indoors without soil, with less water and without the need for pesticides. The container farm will grow salad crops such as pea shoots, watercress, microgreens and herbs, which can also be prepared and eaten fresh at the restaurants within Spark:York.

CEO & co-founder of LettUs Grow, Charlie Guy, believes that projects like these are key to maximising the benefits of indoor growing: “It’s exciting to see indoor farming being utilised in this environment because the advantages of growing in such close proximity to consumers are so evidently visible. Whether that’s reducing food miles and food waste, or more holistic benefits such as getting people involved in and excited about growing food locally. Container park communities are a great way to demonstrate the impact of indoor farming on a smaller scale and they really emphasise the potential for this model to be translated across the country at different settings and scales.”