Who Are We

We are an urban vertical farm in a shipping container using an eco-friendly method of growing crops indoors without soil, all year round, using little water and nutrients. The vertical farm means efficient land use and ability to grow food on non-agricultural land.

For Business and for People

We grow salad crops such as pea shoots, watercress, microgreens and herbs and supply produce to surrounding businesses - including food traders in Spark*. We are investigating the social benefits of our vertical farm, aiming to increase leafy greens consumption in the community through a variety of initiatives: supplying produce to locals via Spark*:York food bank.

Aeroponics Technology

We grow produce by stacking the growing plants using shelves on a rack - like a bunk bed for crops, with each bunk bed having its own lights and water delivery. This vertical arrangement means we can grow much more produce on the same footprint of land compared to growing in the ground.

In the aeroponics technology developed by LettUs Grow, plants’ roots are sprayed with a mist that includes water and the nutrients needed to support plant growth. LettUS Grow technology uses sound waves to create a fine mist. This system uses 95% less fertiliser and water than traditional field-based agriculture, and no pesticide at all.

Where We Are

We are located 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 Team

Katherine Denby

Katherine is the coordinator of Grow It York and a member of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products in the Biology Department at the University of York and lead researcher on the FixOurFood Programme. Katherine’s work is focused on leafy vegetables, using large-scale data and new plant breeding techniques to meet the needs of UK and Global South agriculture and new production systems such as vertical farming.

Bob Doherty

Bob is Professor of Marketing and Dean of the University of York School for Business and Society and together with Prof Katherine lead researchers on FixOurFood Programme. Bob specialises in research on hybrid organisations namely the marketing and management aspects of fair trade organisations and social enterprises. Recently his research interests have developed to look at the role these hybrid organisations play in food systems resilience.

Alana Kluczkovski

Alana is a research associate working at the University of York with hybrid businesses. She runs the farm, engages with the public and local businesses helping them to understand how we can together change the food system in an equitable, healthy and sustainable way. Alana also produces educational materials to engage the public and guide policymakers about food choices to improve human and environmental health.

Alice Thomas

Alice is the research assistant at Grow It York. With a background in plant nutrition, Alice is responsible for the day to day running of the vertical farm.


Grow It York vertical farm is part of a wider programme called FixOurFood. We are researching how hybrid businesses that prioritise social and environmental benefit (not just profit) can be encouraged in the food system. We will explore how these innovative businesses can help tackle the health, environment and economic challenges of how we produce, supply and eat food. Our 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.

Aquaponics in Schools

We are delivering an innovative hands-on school initiative about healthy eating and a healthy planet in partnership with Farm Urban, Liverpool. Portable aquaponic pods (Produce Pods) are being used to help children experience food production and learn about sustainability, climate change and healthy eating. Working with schools and children we are producing a curriculum that can be delivered at scale to enhance food education and empower children to drive the agenda on tackling food sustainability and climate change.

The Produce Pod is a mini-aquaponics system that enables leafy greens and herbs such as lettuce, chard, spinach, basil and mint to be grown at any time of the year indoors. Fish in the Pod produce waste that fertilises the plants, LEDs provide low energy lights for plant growth, and the plants clean the water for the fish (2-3 goldfish).

Seed Variety Assessment

This study was conducted by the Master student Imogen Hockenhull, University of York. Breeding for varieties specifically suited to vertical farms is still in its infancy. We have been comparing seed varieties grown in our farm and assessing yield and nutritional content, including vitamins and minerals. Such information informs breeding programmes aimed at this new farm system.


... collaborate on educational resources for primary schools around vertical farming and healthy diets from a healthy planet!

... provider of our vertical farm technology, We work closely with them to develop our community farm.

... are providing low energy tunable LED lighting for the farm and collaborating on research to investigate the impact of different lighting regimes on crops.

... collaborate on educational resources for primary schools around vertical farming and healthy diets from a healthy planet!