This is about more than just nutrition. Our food must come from a
healthy planet with abundant biodiversity and thriving ecosystems.
It should enrich the communities where it is grown and eaten, and
help local economies to flourish.
Grow It York is an indoor urban community farm in a shipping
container, supplying hyper-local produce to the surrounding
businesses and communities. It was built to investigate how vertical
farming can play a role in creating positive change within our food
systems, benefiting our health, environment and economy.
Because we can control everything within the vertical farm from
plant nutrients to lighting, temperature and water, crop yields are
very predictable, with short times to harvest, minimal waste, and
produce which is highly nutritious. Growing crops all-year-round in
cities, closer to consumers, can reduce food miles and the need for
chilled supply chains helping lower carbon footprints and improving
access to healthy food.
We Believe in Healthy Food
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.”
The University of York, through
FixOurFood, is researching how
hybrid businesses that prioritise social and environmental benefit
(not just profit) can be encouraged in the food system. It will
explore how these innovative businesses can help tackle the health,
environment and economic challenges of how we produce, supply and
eat food. This joint university-business community farm is the first
of its kind, but there are plans to expand to other locations if the
project is a success.
Tom McKenzie Spark:York’s co-founder and Director said: "We’re
extremely proud to be working with LettUs Grow and the University of
York on this. It represents an exciting step forward for our
project, and the first time any form of vertical growing has been
trialled in York city centre. We feel this setting is perfect, with
such a focus on local and independent food producers at
It’s brilliant to see our chefs already starting to use this amazing
produce. The interest from members of the public visiting the venue
has already been huge, and we hope we can use the opportunity to
shout about the significant environmental benefits that this method
of agriculture can bring."
Pop-in to Check It Out
If you would like to visit the vertical farm to see produce growing,
and learn more about this technology and how it could benefit our
food system, we run monthly tours on the last Thursday of the month
at 1 pm and 1.45 pm (tours limited to 10 people at a time). You can
book a visit via the contact form here.
We partner with Tour in a Dish,
a company that arranges food tours in York. On the ECO FOOD TOUR, you'll explore
five different food spots in York and enjoy tasty dishes from local,
independent restaurants. You'll also experience York's eco-friendly and
inventive food scene, including a chance to taste fresh produce grown
at our vertical farm. This sustainable walking tour, led by an informed
guide, lets you uncover hidden culinary treasures and discover unique
sights in the city. It's an excellent choice for food lovers and those
who want to appreciate York's beauty. Tours in a dish arrange groups of four and more.
Contact us for more details here.
If you want to taste Grow It York produce, you can pick up a free
salad bag from the Spark York’s
at Unit 3 on Wednesday mornings from 9.30 - 11 am and Saturdays from
8.30 - 10 am (or until the stock has gone).
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 and
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.”