• Growing Better

    urban farming for better mental health

  • We Did It!

    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.

     

    We're now designign and commissioning 

     

    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.

     

     

    The food establishments below generously supported us in 2016 by buying our produce. Thank you !

    Grand Arcade, City Centre, Leeds

    Oakwood, Leeds

    Street Lane, Leeds

    Chapel Allerton, Leeds

    Chapel Allerton, Leeds

    Street Lane, Leeds

    Harrogate Rd, Leathley near Pool, Otley

    Harrogate Rd, Leeds

    Water Lane, Leeds

    Oakwood, Leeds

    Thorpe Arch Trading Estate, Wetherby

  • Why Buy From Us

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

     

    Our Cause

    Growing Better is a social enterprise dedicated to better mental health through growing edible produce.

     

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

     

    As a relatively new organisation we currently only work with adults but we hope to include young people in the future as we develop our capabilities. Our clients can self-refer or be referred directly by GPs / social prescribing services; and by third sector organisations, counsellors and carer services. We are also keen to start working with crisis and community mental health teams to design more formal interventions. In the longer term, clinically sound pathways to recovery and social re-integration will be developed out of our work.

    Please contact us to discuss how we can work together.

     

    Our Micro Greens and Shoots

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

     

    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.

     

    Other Products

    We are developing a range of products based on our core produce. They make an ideal gift and are available for resale and direct to the public:

     

    Wheatgrass Juice: a popular drink enjoyed by many health seekers

    Packets of seeds: we sell the seeds that we grow so that you can grow your own at home or on your allotment

    Micro Box: a complete kit for growing your own micro greens

     

    Please contact us for further details.

  • 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 25g packs and can also be supplied as "living" micro greens in a punnet. We will also be supplying a range of salad mixes that comprise pea shoots or sunflowers topped with micro greens - more details will be available soon.

     

    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.

  • Job Opportunities

    Current Volunteer and Paid Opportunities

    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

    Growing Assistants - Armley/Kirkstall (Part/Full Time Paid)

    Hydroponics and vertical farming represent the future for urban farming - and a great career opportunity. We will have at least two full / part time positions available from mid-September 2017. You will work in all operational areas of the business including goods in, sowing, tending, cropping, packing and food hygiene. If you are interested in growing food and would like to help us establish a successful vertical farming enterprise in Yorkshire please get in touch.

    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.

  • 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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    July 2017

    We're coming up to the halfway point in our crowdfunding campaign and have been accepted on to Santander's ChangeMaker fund for social enterprises. The fund will provide 50% of our target - provided we raise the first £10,000 from the crowd!

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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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    7th June 2016

    Today was our first day at our second site - Lineham Farm. We are starting with the polytunnel where we will grow tomatoes and herbs. See Facebook and Twitter for photos

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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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    25th May 2016

    We're thrilled to have secured agreement to manage the kitchen garden and polytunnel at Lineham Farm, a residential activity centre for disadvantaged children set in beautiful countryside just north of Leeds. We will supply the farm kitchen with produce from the kitchen garden, while the polytunnel will be used to grow our core crops.

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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