Grow It York brings vertical farming to community container park

The University of York has teamed up with LettUs Grow, an indoor farming technology provider from Bristol, and 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.

Grow It York is an indoor urban community farm in a shipping container, supplying hyper-local produce to the surrounding businesses and locals. 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.

The farm 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. It forms part of the FixOurFood program, 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.

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.

“It’s fantastic to be working with Spark: York and LettUs Grow on this project combining research with action – growing fresh produce for the variety of local restaurants, working with the local community, and evaluating the impact of Grow It York. We hope to offer community slots for growing in the farm and are already working with eco and food groups in schools to design events around the farm. The indoor farm can grow to produce all year round with the local supply chain promoting the local economy and less vulnerable to disruption from weather, pandemics, changes to international trade and so on,” said Professor Katherine Denby, project lead in FixOurFood.

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