• Growing Better

    urban farming for better mental health

  • Articles

    Thinking About Mental Health & Urban Farming (not necessarily at the same time!)

    Last week, I was off sick. Now I am back at work again. This may seem unremarkable to most people, but for me, a person with severe and enduring mental health problems, it is quite the opposite.   I live with EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, aka Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • Growing Better & Bigger

    We're now in our sixth month of producing our new range of produce: micro greens, pea shoots and sunflower shoots at our indoor hydroponic vertical farm in the Sheepscar area of Leeds. We're growing consistently high quality produce and winning more friends and customers every week. Recent new customers include Eat Your Greens and El Marchador Tacos. Details of these can be found below and naturally we'd love you try our produce on their plates!

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    The food establishments below have generously supported us by buying our produce. Thank you !

    Grand Arcade, City Centre, Leeds

    Chapel Allerton, Leeds

    Chapel Allerton, Leeds

    North Street, Leeds

    Water Lane, Leeds

    New York Street, Leeds

    Belgrave Street, Leeds

    Cardigan Mills, Leeds

  • Why Buy From Us

    Our urban farm provides a supportive working environment for people facing mental health challenges.

     

    Our Mission

    Growing Better is a social enterprise dedicated to better mental health through growing edible produce. We have two sites: our commercial operation is an indoor hydroponic vertical farm based in Sheepscar, just outside of Leeds city centre. We are also developing an outdoor community farm in a 3/4 acre site in West Leeds where we run regular sessions and welcome volunteers.

     

    We aim to provide a supportive environment for people coping with mental health challenges - and helps prevent poor mental health. There's lots of evidence for the benefits that growing produce can provide for better mental health. As a starting point please have a look at:

    - A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care (NECR204)

    - Green Care: A Conceptual Framework

    - The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing

     

    Our clients can self-refer or be referred directly by GPs / social prescribing services; and by third sector organisations, counsellors and carer services. Please contact us to discuss how we can work together.

     

    Our Produce

    To ensure that we remain a sustainable social enterprise we sell the beautiful micro greens and shoots that we grow on our farm.

     

    Did you know that as soon as a plant is harvested, it starts to lose its nutritional value? Within a day, a tender soft tissue plant has lost 80% of its essential oils and half of its vitamin and mineral content. Within 3 days many plants have lost most of their nutrient value. The average time from harvest to your shopping trolley at a supermarket is almost 4 and a half days!

     

    Our produce is really FRESH - we pick and deliver within 24 hours, and really LOCAL - so there is less damage caused by loading and unloading to and from storage and vehicles. Because we grow in a controlled environment, our produce doesn't suffer damage from insects and animals, too much heat or cold, or too little or too much rain - enabling us to provide consistently high quality produce all year round - at a consistent price. With minimal handling, low food miles and temperature-controlled distribution our produce stays crisp and fresh for much longer than most, reducing costs and waste, and improving taste and presentation.

     

    We strive for full transparency in our operations and welcome customers to view our growing and packing processes. Our seeds and produce have full traceability so you can be sure of the provenance of what you are eating, right down to the individual site they were grown on!

     

    We are part of a growing movement away from toxic agriculture. We use untreated seeds, the vast majority of which are organic. We create health benefits and employment by farming locally and with minimal use of chemicals. We say no to GMOs, glyphosate and other harmful herbicides, neonicotinoids and other pesticides, growth retardants and peat-based or artificial fertilisers

     

    On a broader level, as urban farmers we contribute to the sustainable, local and independent food ecosystem that is developing very quickly across Yorkshire and the UK, reducing food miles, supporting micro-farming and encouraging healthy eating. Our vertical farm is also a key component of the Kirkstall Eco Education Park (keep) vision, aiming to create a distributed, co-operative closed-loop, low carbon research, education and enterprise zone in Kirkstall, Leeds.

     

  • Grow Kit

    Grow Your Own Micro Greens !

    Our microgreens Grow Kit makes it simple and easy for you to grow fresh microgreens at home or in your food outlet.

     

    Our Grow Kit contains three packets of commercial grade seeds and commercial grade hydroponic grow pads, and a tray and lid to grow them in. Microgreens are very nutritious and extremely tasty. They're a great way to spice up a salad or burger and a great introduction to growing edible produce!

     

    Our Grow Kit is available to purchase from the Leeds Central Food Assembly or directly from us for £5 + £1 delivery. Seeds and Grow Pads are also available to purchase individually. You can download instructions for using the kit here

     

    Please contact us if you are interested in purchasing from us.

  • What We Grow

    We grow and sell micro greens and micro herbs, pea and sunflower shoots, edible flowers and wheatgrass.

     

    If you are looking to reliably source quality produce that is responsibly grown with minimum food miles then we should be talking !

    Our produce is grown with minimal use of chemicals and its provenance can be traced to an individual site. Along with the therapeutic and social benefits that our own urban farm and other producers deliver, our cause will engage your customers.

    As a valuable part of our team, we will actively promote your business in our marketing activities.

     

    All of our produce is packed, sealed and chilled at site for freshness. Our micro greens are supplied cut in 20g packs and can also be supplied as "living" micro greens in a punnet. We also supply a range of salad mixes that comprise pea shoots or sunflowers topped with micro greens.

     

    We are constantly improving our range, and can grow to order, so please contact us with your requirements. A selection of our range is illustrated below.

    Amaranth Red Army (Micro Green)

    A favourite with chefs, this is a beautiful leaf that is available as both a micro-leaf (i.e. when the first true leaves appear) and as a baby-leaf.

    Basil (Micro Greens)

    Thai and sweet basil are available

    Broccoli (Micro Green)

    Celery Leaf (Micro Green)

    These delicate leaves are a fantastic micro-leaf and are also available as a baby-leaf.

    Coriander (Micro Greens)

    While great seasoning is essential, fresh herbs provide a depth of flavour to set off any dish. Our coriander has delicate fronds, always fresh, fragrant and refreshing.

    Fenugreek (Micro Greens)

    Also known as Methi (in Hindi). Fenugreek is an annual herb with a slightly sweet, nutty flavour often described as a cross between celery and maple. A simple web search will throw up a multitude of health benefits claimed for this herb - but we're only claiming that it makes a great addition to curries, salads, breads and anything else you add it to !

    Garlic Chives (Micro Green)

    A perennial herb which has a delicate garlic taste. A tasty addition to salads and cooked dishes.

    Mizuna Sheriff & Red Baron (Micro Green)

    Mizunas are the backbone of our fine leaf mixes - the stage on which the more spectacular leaves perform their magic! Sheriff is a spiky green leaf with a mild pea taste, while Red Baron has a spiky dark red leaf and also a mild pea taste

    Mustard Leaf (Micro Green)

    Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan area of India and have been eaten for some 5,000 years. They are used in many different cuisines, from Chinese to South American and have notable nutritional credentials - vitamins A, C, K and E, folic acid, manganese and even cholesterol lowering properties. We grow several varieties: Red Dragon, Red Frills, Pizzo and Wasabi

    Nasturtium (Leaves and Flowers)

    Edible flowers and peppery leaves to make a spectacular addition to any salad or meal .

    Red Veined Sorrel (Micro Green)

    A new addition to our range of leaves, this has bright green leaves with contrasting dark maroon stems and veins add color and taste to salad mix. Same sharp, citrus flavor as regular sorrel. Used in desserts as well as salads.

    Rocket (Micro Green)

    Our variety is called Uber and has a hint of fresh lemon to complement the traditional mild pepper taste. Try it on a pannini, with salad, mozzarella and balsamic vinegar, or add it to pizza and pasta shortly after cooking. Rich in iron, vitamin C and potassium.

    Sunflower (Shoots)

    Pea (Shoots)

    A light, crunchy body with leaves and tendrils and a fresh pea taste. Pea shoots form the core of our salad mixes.

    Radish (Micro Greens)

    We grow several different varieties of radish: green Daikon, deep pink-stemmed (Sangria), purple (Rambo) and light pink-stemmed (China Rose). They differ in the intensity of their peppery flavour, but all make a colourful addition to a salad.

    Beet Bulls Blood (Micro Green)

    Looks beautiful and has it's own special texture. Colour varies from a dark purply-red to mottled red and ochre.

  • Work With Us

    Please use the Contact Us form to register your interest and we will be in touch

    Please note that we actively encourage and support applications from people with lived mental health experience

    Social Entrepreneur - eCommerce

    We're looking for a social entrepreneur to build our online presence. This is a wonderful opportunity to build and run your own social enterprise within the Growing Better family. You will be selling our produce, seeds, growing kits and a range of value-added and branded products. Ideally you will have experience of setting up and running an ecommerce operation and of running a business - but passion and ambition are just as important.

     

    This is a business, not an employment opportunity so you will need to be self-funded. Contact our CEO Rob Moores for a confidential discussion.

    (added Dec 2017)

    Community Growers - Armley/Kirkstall (Volunteer)

    We are establishing a community farm and orchard at West Leeds Activity Centre. The tasks involve light manual work, some of which can involve bending and light lifting. Activities include sowing, cropping and bagging and general maintenance tasks.

    We are looking for volunteers to help, with hours to suit. No previous experience required.

    There are opportunities to develop as a volunteer team leader after suitable experience has been gained.

    (added Oct 2017)

  • Who We Are

    Growing Better CIC is a Community Interest Company limited by guarantee - Company Number 10055720

    Rob

    Rob is the founder of Growing Better. He manages the operational side of the business, making sure that we are growing what our customers want to buy, and that we are delivering on our social mission.

    Andrew

    Andrew founded the award-winning street food vendor Fish& and heads up our sales efforts. He knows just about every chef and food writer in Yorkshire and is always good for a restaurant recommendation.

    Tom

    A founder member of Feed Leeds and the Leeds Food Partnership, Tom teaches at Leeds Beckett University (incl. urban agriculture) and works with climate researchers at University of Leeds. He also has 30+ years in corporate communications and TV, and 10 years as a professional folk musician and storyteller.

    Trish

    Trish is an urban farmer who is passionate about the benefits of connecting people to growing food. With a background in research & insight Trish brings strategic thinking to optimise the growing process and to help shape the user experience.

    Trish blogs at TrishTravelFood

  • News

    The latest news from Growing Better

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    June 2018

    We attended our first event - the Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival at Leeds Town Hall on the 16th-17th June. It was great to meet so many people interested in healthy eating. The surprise stars of our stand were our Microgreens Grow Kit and our foraged wild garlic pesto. Watch out for more new products over the coming months !

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    January 2018

    We're delighted to have been offered a place on the Community Trade Up Programme run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs in partnership with Power To Change! It's an intensive growth-focused programme running from February to July 2018 with training, action learning and a financial incentive to grow our revenue. We're very much looking forward to meeting the other participants and getting as many of our team involved as possible.

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    November 2017

    In partnership with Fuel For School we're running a trialling indoor growing using hydroponics in schools. We've built a very simple two level flood and drain system using equipment you can buy from a hardware store and ran a one-hour session with a group of KS2 children at a local school in Leeds. The system will remain in the school for two weeks during which time the children will take a number of environmental measures and monitor the growth of the produce. We'll use their feedback from this trial to improve the system and the educational materials, and hopefully start to get many more children growing and better appreciating where food comes from.

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    October 2017

    We've secure funding from The Leeds Fund to run a course that is particularly aimed at people who are experiencing social isolation and/or low-level depression. The 6-week course - Growing Better Edibles - starts on 9th November. Further information here

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    September 2017

    More great news! We've been successful in our application to join the AD:VENTURE programme which delivers ERDF funded growth support to young businesses within the Leeds City region. The programme provides a mix of grants and advice - with a condition that we take on 3 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees within the next 12 months - and that's a challenge we're more than happy to take on.

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    September 2017

    On Saturday 23rd September we undertook a public consultation to find out what the local community in Armley and the surrounding areas thought of our plans to create a Community farm at West Leeds Activity Centre. We were surprised by the enthusiasm from young and old alike, with some great ideas and offers of help in making it a reality. See our FaceBook page for more details and pictures.

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    August 2017

    On the 16th August we completed our first ever round of funding, crowdfunding over £20,000 to buy a shipping container and fit it out with the equipment needed to create Leeds first hydroponic vertical farm, creating jobs and helping with social re-integration for people with mental health challenges. We were very fortunate to have been successful in applying to Santander's Changemaker fund for social enterprises which provided match funding of £10.000 to help us reach our target.

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    May 2017

    We've started our micro greens growing trials in a portakabin, in the Real Junk Food Project Sharehouse in Pudsey - thanks team for the generosity in letting us use some of your space!

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    4th April 2017

    Growing Better is delighted to have been accepted onto the Business In the Community (BITC) arc programme, which connects social enterprises with big businesses, sharing expertise and innovation to create bigger, better businesses and jobs for local communities.

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    March 2017

    Growing Better has joined the Independent Food & Drink Academy! Details about the IFDA can be found here

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    6th February

    Growing Better founder Rob Moores will be joining the annual Social Enterprise panel to discuss ‘Bridging the Gap through Social Enterprise‘ on February 14th at Leeds University Business School

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    14th January

    We are in advanced discussions around a site in Kirkstall that will allow us to grow outdoors, erect a polytunnel, plant an orchard and provide a hard standing for a shipping container to grow micro greens. We should have this signed off by the end of the month at which point we can say exactly where it will be. Watch this space!

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    4th December

    We're moving - although we don't yet have a destination!

    Today was our last day clearing up at Red Hall Nursery, where Leeds City Council have lent us the use of some polytunnels since May this year. In addition to the tunnels, the staff at the Nursery have been incredibly supportive in many ways - including lending us trolleys and other equipment, giving us advice on growing and disease management, and giving us loads of emotional support as we climbed what at times seemed like a vertical learning wall ! Without their support, we would have achieved a fraction of what we were able to - THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!

    So to the move. We have a couple of places that we are discussing but are still very much open to offers - so please get in touch if you have some land, polytunnels or shipping containers that you'd like to lend us and help us make an even bigger difference in 2017.

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    22nd September

    Having won the last Leeds SOUP crowdfunding event in May, we were invited back to present on how our venture has progressed since then and what we have done with our prize money. Back on 17th May we had only been growing for six days so there was a lot to report!

    It was also inspiring to hear the four pitches for this month's prize money. Great job by the Leeds SOUP team!

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    20th August

    We're delighted to welcome Tasty of Oakwood, St.Gemma's Hospice in Moortown, and The Cross Keys on Water Lane as the latest food establishments where you can sample our produce.

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    1st August

    We're delighted to welcome Ruby's and Stories as customers!

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    22nd July

    We've completed our first week of trading, with lots of lessons learned - and some very happy customers! Our new customers include Hayley & Clifford (Street Lane, Leeds), The Fruit Stall and House of Koko (both Harrogate Rd, Leeds)

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    8th July

    We're delighted that Trish Cliff has joined our team as Head Grower. Trish is an urban farmer who is passionate about the benefits of connecting people to growing food. With a background in research & insight Trish brings strategic thinking to optimise the growing process and to help shape the user experience.

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    3rd July

    We ran our first market stall today in support of St Gemmas Hospice in Leeds. In addition to supporting this great cause we developed some new products - pesto, salad/herb planters and packet seeds, which we will be selling through retail outlets and directly

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    2nd June 2016

    We celebrated completing two months running a growing scheme at a Leeds women's domestic abuse refuge this week. It coincided with the start of Ramadan, and some of the residents prepared a Moroccan soup that is used to break fast, using coriander and parsley that has been grown in the garden. Some of the residents also seeded up window ledge planters so they can grow salads in their flats!

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    13th May 2016

    Growing Better is now part of the Feed Leeds network, which is involved with sustainable local food and has recently produced a Food Strategy for Leeds.

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    3rd May 2016

    An exciting day as we secure agreement on our first piece of land - complete with polytunnel - to establish an urban farm!

  • Contact Us

    Whatever you've got to say - we want to hear it!

    Whether you're interested in stocking our produce, volunteering with us

    or simply giving us feedback, please do get in touch

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