Spallumcheen farm turns over new leaf(y) produce

Picture this: it’s November in the North Okanagan. The first dusting or big dump of snow has hit the region and the ground is all white-covered.

You get a last-minute dinner invitation and your friends want you to bring your legendary Caesar salad. Except now, instead of going to the local grocery store and picking up imported romaine lettuce, you can grab fresh greens made at a Spallumcheen farm.

Welcome to Greenlion Farms on Hullcar Road in the township, home of Lesley and Mark van Deursen and their children, and an indoor growing facility that began operating in March.

“We are growing multiple varieties of lettuce, microgreens and, soon, herbs, basil primarily,” said Lesley shortly after she and Mark gave a majority of Spall council a recent tour of the facility.

“All of the seeds go into plugs then go into the germination module and spend a certain period of time there until they’ve grown to about one and a half-to-two inches tall,” said Lesley. “Then they’re transplanted into a different module where they spend the rest of growth cycle to reach a 42-day maturity. Then they’re harvested out of that same module.”

The produce is packed, kept in a cooler for a day and sent to a distribution facility in Lake Country. Green Lion Farms did its first seeding in the third week of March.

“I think the idea of being able to have year-round crops (and by extension, provide consistent employment) is an awesome aspect to their business,” said Casson. “Also, utilizing a controlled environment can mitigate the element of poor weather conditions, case in point being the heatwave we’ve just come through.”

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