Couple bringing vertical farming to Downtown Guelph after winning free store space

It’s the first time Downtown Guelph will have an indoor retail space where customers can walk in and have fresh produce harvested right in front of them. After winning the Business Centre Guelph-Wellington's Win This Space business pitch competition, bio technicians Nykole Crevits, 29, and Karl Fellbaum, 34, who founded Noki Farms, are set to move into a new space in Downtown Guelph this fall. 

Their retail space of approximately 100 square feet will have a living wall of vertical hydroponic systems that will allow 1,000 cubic feet of growing space. “We’re still kind of in shock,” said Crevits. “It still hasn’t fully set in.”

The couple won a space downtown with discounted rent for the first year along with $20,000 at BCGW’s first-ever Win This Space competition in partnership with Downtown Guelph Business Association and Invest in Guelph.

Noki Farms is one of three businesses that competed in a virtual business pitch event on April 13. The event was the culmination of nearly three months of business development, training, and coaching for all participants. “We know the hard work starts now,” said Fellbaum, adding that the couple is currently in talks with landlords of retail spaces in the downtown core to determine which space they will settle into. 

He said the idea of Noki Farms came to them when the two found themselves at home with extra time on their hands during the pandemic. “We have busy minds and we always have to keep our hands busy with something so we thought ‘Hey we don't have our yard space to garden, so let's just grow mushrooms inside,’” said Crevits.

The two entered the competition because they felt they had the experience to compete, believed their product would work and were excited about the training. “We were willing to do the work, it was just a matter of being taught the work is,” said Crevits.

Noki Farms will be growing and selling mushrooms, micro-greens, leafy greens and herbs in the store using vertical farming technology.  “You walk in, it's a deli style serving system where you can see all the products growing in front of you and we serve it by weight.”

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