Archive | Food & Drink

Crowdfunding Leeds First Urban Vertical Farm



Growing Better is a social enterprise dedicated to creating better mental health through growing edible produce, and has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £20,000 to create Leeds’ first indoor urban vertical farm – in a converted shipping container!

We all know that growing food is good for our mental health, and Growing Better aims to provide a supportive environment that reduces isolation and stress, improves confidence, and provides skills and work experience – all of which helps people get back into society and the workplace.

After a successful summer in 2016 growing baby leaf salad at Red Hall nursery and supplying local shops such as Haley & Clifford on Street lane and The Fruit Stall on Harrogate Rd, the Growing Better team realised that growing outdoors wasn’t going to be sustainable outside the Yorkshire growing season. However people need support with mental health all year round – so they went back to the drawing board and after a lot of research and trials decided to create Leeds first indoor urban vertical farm.

Growing Better’s vertical farm will use hydroponics to grow micro greens, pea and sunflower shoots and wheatgrass. Although new to many people, hydroponics is well understood in the horticultural industry. Most British-grown cucumbers and tomatoes are grown hydroponically, in huge glasshouses. What’s different about Growing Better’s setup is that growing takes place on several levels, hence the term ‘vertical farming’.

Founder Rob Moores told North Leeds Life “When you’re experiencing poor mental health, it can take a huge effort just to get out of the house. We wanted to create our farm in the suburbs that was easy for people to get to, and we decided to build it in a shipping container so we’re not at the mercy of the elements. It also means that it’s secure and fairly portable, and helps us keep costs to a minimum.

“Our crowdfunding campaign is on track, and it recently received a huge boost from Santander’s ChangeMaker fund for social enterprises. If we can raise 50% of our target, the fund will provide the remaining 50% – which effectively means that the value of every donation is doubled!

“Every donation – from £5 upwards, takes us a step nearer to helping people recover from poor mental health. In return for a donation we’re offering some great rewards, and we’re hoping that the community will back us to make this a success, and a first for Leeds.”

You can find out more about Growing Better’s plans and make a pledge to the crowdfunding campaign here


Posted in Community News, Food & Drink, Health & FitnessComments (0)

Chapel Allerton’s Big Lunch and Community Awards




The ninth annual Chapel Allerton Big Lunch is taking place along Regent Street on Sunday 18th June. Combined with the Chapel Allerton Awards, this community event is organised by the volunteer-run group cara, as part of the national Big Lunch initiative. This year The Big Lunch is also working alongside the Jo Cox Foundation to launch The Great Get Together – encouraging a weekend of community activity in memory of Jo who was tragically murdered on 16th June last year.

With thousands of similar ‘Big Lunch’ street parties taking place nationwide, cara has taken the Chapel Allerton event a step further, by also organising the Chapel Allerton Awards, which celebrate the best Chapel Allerton has to offer, both community and commercial. With categories from Best Place to Eat and Best Member of Staff, to Best Neighbour, Contribution to the Community, and the ultimate title of King and Queen of Chapel Allerton, the awards offer an opportunity for unsung heroes from all aspects of local life to be recognised.

Residents and customers can nominate whomever they like and provide a reason for their nomination, which the cara committee then vote on to decide the winners. The winners will be announced at the Chapel Allerton Big Lunch, and presented with certificates and awards.

The Big Lunch itself is from 12 noon to 5pm on Sunday 18th June. Everyone is welcome, and the ‘price’ of entry is simply to bring some food to share! Marquees, tables, seating and cutlery are all provided, as are kids games, a BBQ, and live music throughout the day! Be sure to arrive early to get the best food and a seat, and there’ll even be a prize for best dish at 1pm!

In addition to the Awards and the Big Lunch, cara also organises a range of evening and weekend classes, monthly supper clubs in local eateries, a book club, and other social events such as speed dating and a pub quiz. Membership is just £10 a year, at least 10% of which goes to charity. Members can use their cara cards in almost 100 different shops, bars, restaurants and online businesses in the local area to enjoy excellent discounts, while supporting local and independent businesses.


For further information visit, or follow them on Twitter @caraChapelA (#CAAwards).


Matt Tamplin, cara

Posted in Community News, Food & DrinkComments (0)

EatNorth: The New Weekly Street Food Market

The team behind the Leeds Indie Food festival have recently announced a brand new project: EatNorth. Starting on 17 June, the new project will be a weekly food fair located at the North Brewing Co taproom in Sheepscar, just outside the city centre – so that keen foodies can grab a bite of Leeds Indie Food all summer long.

From Saturday 17 June, North Brewing Co will host a rotating line-up of street food traders at their taproom, located just off North Street and only a short walk from well-known independents such as The Brunswick, Belgrave Music Hall and The Reliance.

The first six weeks are already fully booked, with over thirty different street food traders signing on to serve up everything from Taiwanese steamed buns to Canadian poutine, plus speciality coffee and sweet options available every week alongside award winning craft beers, spirits, and wine. Organisers promise a rotating lineup of six traders a week, with each Saturday bringing at least one food truck brand new to the city, some new faces trading for the first time, and old favourites too.

Food fans can even expect two unique special editions: EatNorth Vs Hopulance (Friday 7 July), a collaboration with the brewery’s popular DJ night featuring late night food and crafty cocktails, and VegNorth (Saturday 15 July), when some of the country’s best vegetarian and vegan traders will be serving up a totally meat free menu, complimented by vegan beers and wines on the bar.

Saturday 17th June (Launch)
Saturday 24th June
Friday 7th July (EatNorth Vs Hopulance)
Saturday 1st July
Saturday 15th July (VegNorth)
Saturday 22nd July

North Brewing Co., Taverners Walk Industrial Estate, Sheepscar Grove, Leeds, LS7 1AH

Posted in Food & DrinkComments (0)

Shore to Shore at Oriental City


A play about Chinese people from Leeds, and staged at the Oriental City Restaurant on Cross Stamford Street, in Leeds was intriguing – a little drama accompanied by some tasty food.

Writers Mary Cooper and MW Sun had listened to and recorded the voices of dozens of Chinese people in Leeds. From these they wove together this wonderful, poignant play, bringing their stories and experiences to life. It was all the more touching because their experiences are echoed today. Here in our comfortable little bubbles we choose to ignore the fact that around the world people are dealing with similar experiences – being forced to flee because of war, famine, a better life…. just trying to survive.

Cheung Wing let go of his mother’s hand when they were fleeing the Japanese and subsequently was sold as a labourer in rural China. Years later he’s found by his uncle and reunited with his mother, then makes his way to Leeds to work in a restaurant.

Mei Lan’s parents run a takeaway and as children she and her brother worked long hours peeling potatoes and helping to run the business. When the business fails they join their father at another takeaway in the Dales – the only ‘Chinks’ in the village.

YiDi, born during the one-child policy in China and whose father had wanted a son, spends her life trying to gain his approval but, despite excelling academically, it’s never good enough. To escape she applies to do further study in Leeds where she discovers she has to add Yorkshire to her fluent English!

Presented by seven wonderful actors, these lives intertwine, back and forth. Each one a tale of love, loss, struggle and survival. All now happily living in Leeds surrounded by friends and family, none has forgotten their grueling journeys to get here – the hunger, the bullying, the lack of love, and the relentlessly hard work.

‘Shore to Shore’ at Oriental City started with a warming bowl of seaweed and tofu soup and soup made regular appearances throughout the play – first made with just roots and stems, then with vegetables, and finally with chicken! When the play finished we dived into more delicious dishes and somehow felt a new appreciation for this cuisine that so many of the Leeds Chinese community had contributed to.

‘Shore to Shore’ was presented by On The Wire in partnership with the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds and Oriental City Restaurant. It is currently on tour and will play in Manchester, Oxford, London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and finishing at The Spurriergate Centre, York, on 9th/10th June.

Posted in Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, TheatreComments (0)

George’s Great British Kitchen – Classics with a Unique Twist



George’s Great British Kitchen, the idea of two childhood friends, Andrew and Nick from Nottingham, recently opened at The Light on The Headrow.

Andrew’s father, George, opened his first fish and chip shop in the 60s. “As teenagers, I remember Nick and I spending our school holidays painting the shop to make sure that everything was spot on for our customers”, said Andrew. “I used to help in the shop, frying fish, serving customers and everything in between – which all helped to shape the type of service I wanted to provide.

“We dreamt of creating a place where people could meet with friends and family and have a great time together, with good food and great music. We’re all about people feeling comfortable in a non-scripted, non-chain like environment.”



Having run successful fish and chip shops, Andrew and Nick had a vision of adapting traditional British classics, and adding a unique twist.

“We wanted a visit to our restaurant to bring back childhood memories of enjoying ice cream by the sea, tucking into freshly made doughnuts, and exploring all that’s best about the British coast. That said, the classic British fish and chips are just a small part of our menu!”

George’s menu offers buckets of variety, including Ham Hock and Mushy Pea Fritters, covered in crunchy seaweed batter and served with wasabi mayonnaise, and Cauliflower and Mushroom Jalfrezi Pie.

To find out more, visit their Facebook page.


Posted in Business, Food & DrinkComments (0)

Play about Leeds Chinese Communities Premières at Oriental City


From Shore to Shore is a new play by Mary Cooper in collaboration with MW Sun that weaves together three revealing and moving stories drawn from different generations of people from the British Chinese community. The production will be performed at Oriental City Restaurant in Leeds from the 16-18 May at 7.30pm (16th at 6.30pm and Mat performance at 12.30pm on the 17th).


Directed by David K S Tse, From Shore to Shore spans a century of Chinese history through its stories of love and loss, struggle and survival.

Taking place in a restaurant, enhancing the themes of food and its relationship to love and survival, and accompanied by a Chinese meal, From Shore to Shore blends  English, Mandarin and Cantonese in an innovative way.


Playwright Mary Cooper, who has written for BBC Radio 4, Channel 4 and Granada, and multilingual collaborator M W Sun have spent three years researching and recording stories with people in the Chinese community.

“From Shore to Shore draws on the stories of interviewees from 14 to 84, stories often hidden even from family members,” said Mary. The play reveals the long-view of migration – one of toil, endurance and success in the UK.  It has been an extraordinary insight into an undiscovered side of Britain’s rich contemporary diversity reaffirming our common humanity in these divisive times.”

For more info visit




Posted in Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, TheatreComments (0)

Students Team Up with Fuel for School to Bring Healthy Food into the Classroom

Fuel For School Landscape

Education students at Leeds Beckett are helping primary schools across West Yorkshire to teach children about healthy diets and avoiding food waste as part of an initiative by the Real Junk Food Project.

As part of the Fuel for School initiative, the team helped to create an education pack containing a range of interactive classroom activities for primary school children aged between six and 11. It is designed to be used by teachers of any subject to support both the National Curriculum requirements for cooking and nutrition and the goals of Fuel for School.

Fuel for School began as a partnership between the Real Junk Food Project and Richmond Hill Primary School in Hunslet. The aim was to remove hunger as a barrier to learning, highlight the importance of nutrition and wellbeing in learning, and raise awareness of the vast amounts of wasted food.

Richmond Hill joined forces with the Real Junk Food Project to provide free breakfasts to all 600 pupils at the school and found that this had a positive effect on their behaviour, concentration and attainment. This was followed by a community pay-as-you-feel café and daily market stall in the school grounds.

Fuel for School is now working with more than 35 primary schools in the Leeds area, delivering surplus food once a week, which is used for breakfast clubs, ingredients in cooking classes, or through school market stalls.

To cope with the increasing demand for information, the Leeds Beckett students were tasked with developing educational resources and activities which both support Fuel for School’s core values and provide an opportunity for pupils to use some of the surplus food provided in the classroom.

Fuel For School Portrait

The new educational pack was launched recently at Leeds Beckett University’s Headingley Campus, where Adam Smith, Founder of The Real Junk Food Project, Nathan Atkinson, Head Teacher Richmond Hill, and Kevin Mackay, Co-ordinator of Fuel for School, presented and demonstrated the work to a range of schools from across West Yorkshire.

“It has been a privilege to work on this project”, said Dr Anne Temple Clothier, Senior Lecturer in the Carnegie School of Education. “It has been a delight to be engaged in a multi-disciplinary team and to co-create social innovation. This innovative project has greatly enhanced the professional development of the students and their employability. Working in a range of problem solving sub-groups, they experienced situations mirroring real-life professional practice.”

The Real Junk Food Project was founded four years ago by Adam Smith, who was appalled to find out that around one third of all food produced across the world ends up in landfill. Adam started with a pay-as-you-feel café in Armley where food that would have been wasted is cooked and served by volunteers. Food can be paid for by either money or time and labour. This has led to an international network of 110 cafes which has, so far, saved more than 107,000 tons of food from being wasted.

Adam has now opened England’s first pay-as-you-feel surplus supermarket in Pudsey.


Posted in Education, Food & DrinkComments (0)

HopCity Brings world Famous Brews to Leeds

Photos by: • Instagram/Twitter: @tomjoyphoto

Photos by: • Instagram/Twitter: @tomjoyphoto

Northern Monk Brew Co. welcomes some of the most cutting-edge breweries to Leeds for a celebration of hops. Leeds’ HopCity, 13th – 15th April, sponsored by US hop growing collective Yakima Chief, is produced in association with Leeds Beer Week and Little Leeds Beer House.

Beer lovers will be salivating at the prospect of sampling the likes of US breweries The Alchemist (Vermont), brewer of the world, beating Heady Topper and Other Half (New York) – two hop-forward breweries that have achieved legendary status among beer fans. These breweries rarely visit Europe – HopCity will be one of the only places to try their delicious beverages.

A strong Scandinavian contingent will also be attending, including Dry & Bitter and Stigbergets (producers of one of the top 10 IPAs in the world), o/o and Alefarm. This line-up is backed up by the likes of Manchester’s Cloudwater Brewery (fresh from receiving the accolade of Fifth Best Brewery in the world), Magic Rock, Beavertown, The Kernel, Siren, Brewdog and Marble, plus a local contingent curated by Leeds Beer Week.

The festival will be the first European festival to focus solely on hops and hop-led beer styles. IPAs feature heavily – think Session, Double, Black, and Belgian IPAs, and some more left field examples like dry hopped sours, and hoppy dark beers. In particular, people will be gunning for the Hop City official beer. Produced in collaboration with Cloudwater Brewery, this limited edition IPA showcases some of the best hops available and has been produced especially for the festival. It will launch very soon in cans with peel-to-reveal labels, five of which will contain Golden Tickets to the festival.  There will also be excellent street food provided by Patty Smiths, Holy Crab, Parmstar, Manjits Kitchen, and Dim Sum Su.

Tickets cost £12+ booking fee for single sessions from Thursday through to Saturday. A ‘Full Cone’ ticket gives access to all sessions and is priced at £60+ booking fee.

Full details are available at

Tickets – 

Posted in Food & Drink, Life & StyleComments (0)

School Children Say ‘No’ To Exploitation


Children from 15 primary and secondary schools across Leeds, will come together during Fairtrade Fortnight on Thursday 9th March to run an afternoon of workshops which they have planned around the theme ‘Take a Break for Fairtrade’.

The aim is to educate each other about Fairtrade and how it is enabling farmers around the world to earn a fair wage and lead dignified lives. Supported by Leeds DEC and the city’s Fairtrade group, the seventh annual Fairtrade School Celebration is taking place next Thursday 9th March at Leeds Civic Hall. The official opening is at 1pm with speeches by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and Councillor Mulherrin.

During the event the children will run workshops, including child slavery in the cocoa trade, Fairtrade trivial pursuit, chocolate tasting and learning about the journey of the cocoa bean. Throughout the afternoon, they will be thinking about effects of unfair trade and at 2pm will symbolically break a giant paper chain covered in words relating to exploitation.

For some of the participants this will be this first time they have organised peer-education activities, for others they enjoyed it so much last year they are taking part again!

“It’s really exciting to run a workshop at the Civic Hall and work with other children”, said Poppy Fletcher (8) from Ireland Wood Primary School.

Fairtrade Fortnight occurs in February/March every year and people all over the UK raise awareness about the positive difference it makes. Leeds is a Fairtrade City and many organisations and businesses support Fairtrade. More widely, Yorkshire led the way to become the UK’s first Fairtrade Region in January 2013.



Posted in Charity, Education, Food & DrinkComments (0)

Convive Opens at Weetwood Hall

Restaurant manager Gio Conti with Martin Hicks, MD of Convive and Weetwood Hall

Restaurant Manager Gio Conti with Martin Hicks, MD of Weetwood Hall


‘Convive’, part of the University of Leeds-owned Weetwood Hall estate, has just opened, promising to bring a touch of Mediterranean lifestyle to the suburbs of Leeds.

The 120-seat restaurant and bar, will be twinned with Mediterranean restaurants across Europe, creating inspiration through innovative chef swaps and ingredient sourcing on quality food and drink. Of course, many ingredients used in the dishes on the menu will be sourced from local Yorkshire suppliers.

As part of the £2m spend, which also features an alfresco area under a retractable roof within the gardens, significant investment has gone into the kitchens and kit installation.

Convive is the vision of Martin Hicks, Managing Director of Weetwood Hall who, over the past 25 years, has been responsible for establishing Weetwood Hall as one of the leading hotel and conference venues in the region.

Profits from the Weetwood estate are gift-aided to the University of Leeds and these donations are invested into research and development projects at the University, as well as funding educational resources. Several million pounds has been donated over the past two decades purely from profits generated by Weetwood Hall.

“Convive has been in planning for a long time and I’m delighted my original vision has finally become a reality”, said Martin. “Not only is it a great way to build on 25 years of success at Weetwood Hall, but it’s also an impressive addition to the restaurant and bar scene in Leeds. We’ve created a restaurant to rival anything in the city centre. I’m very proud that the University, and the city of Leeds as a whole, will benefit from any profits generated by Convive.”

For more information visit



Posted in Food & DrinkComments (0)