The BioHub Celebrates it's 1st Anniversary
In an exciting and dynamic year of education, collaboration, and sustainable agricultural achievements, the BioHub demonstrator farm in North Yorkshire has marked a significant milestone with its one year anniversary.
The Biohub is a regenerative agricultural project sited in the uplands of North Yorkshire. Developed by RegenFarmCo, supported by Yorkshire Water, and sponsored by Levy UK + Ireland and QuornPro, the scheme has spent the last 12-months designing, developing and showcasing regenerative approaches to farming on a 92-acre plot of previously fallow grazing land.
Under the stewardship of Dr Vincent Walsh, RegenFarmCo’s founder and Head of Innovation, over 24,000 trees, shrubs, cover crops, system plants, and herbs, have been planted. These includes 9,000 fruit saplings, 2,000 perennial crops, 4,000 system plants, and over 1,000 hedgerow trees.
In addition, rows of crop alleys have been established, new water irrigation features have been dug, and beehives have been installed. Forty tonnes of ground calcium have been scattered, twenty tonnes of horse manure has been spread, and 100 kg of worms have been embedded in the soil.
This month, a further 8,000 coppice trees are being planted to support a new woodland development on the edge of the site.
Through a programme of regular educational and hands-on workshops, much of the digging, planting, and crop sowing at the BioHub has been undertaken by staff and associates from Levy and QuornPro.
Hundreds of senior hospitality and foodservice industry professionals, as well as industry leaders from across Yorkshire’s food and agriculture sector, have also attended discovery days at the farm.
In total, it has been calculated that over 800 people have visited the farm over the last year.
The benefits of the BioHub initiative to its sponsors and partners have already been immense.
Market-leading sports and entertainment caterers, Levy, have used the site to teach its culinary and operational teams, as well as clients, how precision agriculture, agroforestry, and regenerative farming techniques can help the company achieve its ambitious climate net zero 2027 goal.
QuornPro, the foodservice division of the pioneering meat-free brand Quorn, have used the BioHub site to help educate, enthuse and inspire its staff about innovative approaches to ingredient development and food production. The BioHub’s commitment to circular principles is also helping to inform and support QuornPro’s Sustainable Nutrition programme.
And Yorkshire Water have used their involvement in the BioHub project to promote their Beyond Nature programme; an environmental initiative which helps farmers on its land to take a more holistic, sustainable and biodiverse approach to land management and agriculture. Yorkshire Water activities have included inviting groups of local farmers to tour the BioHub, and facilitating discussions around how some of its systems and processes could potentially be applied to more traditional farming methods.
The success of the BioHub’s first year has seen Levy and QuornPro commit to long-term sponsorship to the project.
Both companies believe it not only offers great opportunities to engage with employees, suppliers and customers about sustainability issues across the food and farming supply chain – it also helps stimulate thinking around how the wider circular economy could be applied to other parts of the business.
“We are incredibly proud of what we've accomplished in our first year at the BioHub. The project stands as a testament to the potential of sustainable and innovation-driven farming practices. It is not only a source of inspiration for our partners and teams to the farm, but also a model for the industry as a whole. At Levy we are moving towards our produce coming from regenerative sources, and the BioHub is a tangible way to demonstrate how we’re putting that commitment into practice. Further, we’ve been able to show client teams what can be done if you really want to make a difference.” says Kevin Watson, Sustainability Director, Levy UK + I
Ellie Janes, Foodservice Lead for Nutrition and Sustainability, QuornPro says “We are driven by our pioneering spirit at QuornPro, aiming to become the best protein on the planet and always breaking new ground in the process. It’s been brilliant to be part of this pioneering project as part of that journey. Playing an active role in the development of the farm has been incredibly valuable to the whole QuornPro team and we look forward to watching it evolve in the coming year.”
Lisa Harrowsmith, Yorkshire Water’s Beyond Nature lead, said: “It’s exciting just how much progress has been made at the BioHub over the last year, and its great to see how the land and water elements are already underpinning a more sustainable approach to resource management. The fact we’ve been able to use the project to show other farmers how practical regenerative interventions can be adopted here in North Yorkshire is also helping start conversations about how circular approaches might be applied to more traditional agricultural practices.”
“A year ago we had a small patch of hilly North Yorkshire farmland, a handful of forward-looking partners, and a vision of what could be achieved by taking a more regenerative approach to farming. And while we’ve still got a long way to go, large parts of site have already been transformed from fallow grazing land into a series of structured, resilient and sustainable plots that are producing food, boosting soil health, capturing carbon, and promoting biodiversity.
But even though having fruit on the trees, and water in the swales, is fantastic, what you can’t see is the complex layering and integrated activities which we’ve engineered below the surface. As a result of getting those ecosystem building blocks in place, we can now push on with more planting and land management interventions, which will help to broaden the range of produce and steadily increase yields.
However, none of this could have been achieved without the sponsorship and support of partners such as Levy, QuornPro, and Yorkshire Water, so I’m delighted that they have all committed to continue to back the BioHub going forward.” says Dr Vincent Walsh, founder of RegenFarmCo