Onwards and upwards! Vertical farms could come to York Central

Vertical farming makes maximum use of limited space. Photograph: verticalfarming.net

Urban farms to grow food for residents could be built on new developments in York.

The plans could see salad leaves, tomatoes and even more exotic crops grown in greenhouses on major housing schemes like York Central.

In a bid to meet City of York Council’s pledge for the city to be carbon neutral by 2030, Cllr Christian Vassie said creating urban farms is just one of the initiatives the organisation is looking at.

Cllr Vassie, chair of the council’s new climate change committee, said York could follow in the footsteps of the Netherlands, where produce is grown in small vertical farms with six or seven layers of vegetables stacked on top of each other.

He said:

  • The key is how we can produce our food closer to home.

    Food like lettuces may be grown in one part of the country and transported all over the UK before they reach us. It’s not good for the environment.

    Vertical farms are innovative. Space to grow food costs a lot more in a city so it’s about making best use of our land.

Surprised by what you can grow

Speaking at a council meeting about the design guide for new council developments, he asked if urban farms could be included in proposals for schemes – including York Central.

He said:

  • We could have small farms on new developments. We talk about York Central being innovative – this is exactly the kind of thing you would want to see there.

    It’s one of many things that the climate change committee is looking at. I’m proud that the council declared an ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030.

    But delivering it is going to be really tough, it requires more creative decisions.

    Food is just one part of that. I think people would be surprised by what we can grow here that we currently do not.

    The climate change committee will have to consider everything. The challenge we face is massive.

While the urban farms would not be able to feed the whole city, he said they would be a good start, adding that it may even be possible to grow exotic crops such as bananas could be grown in the UK.

And that growing food close to where it is eaten is one way to tackle carbon emissions.

The first meeting of the council’s new climate change committee is due to take place on September 10.