“Many of our customers care first and foremost about growing locally. We support customers throughout the growing process and the lifetime of their container farm,” says Stephanie Gordon, editor-in-chief at The Growcer, an Ottawa-based agtech company that builds turnkey container farming solutions.
The company operates mainly in three “domains”, including remote communities where imported commodities are expensive, schools and institutions as an educational tool, and non-profit organizations. Between these client types, Growcer has experienced the highest demand and with increased urgency since the beginning of the pandemic.
Inside of a Growcer farm (Photo credits: Growcer)
According to marketing community development lead Nia Pryce, “Growcer installed projects during the pandemic as people wanted to better control their food systems and improve education. People realized that the food system is quite fragile, especially in remote areas relying on imports.”
The company has also installed container farms with commercial partners, such as the Yellowknife Co-Op in the Northwest Territories who installed a Growcer unit to provide the city with locally produced, fresh greens which are otherwise unavailable due to the long supply chain between Yellowknife and southern distribution centers.
The Valemount Learning Centre in B.C. receiving horticulture training for their new Growcer farm
Focus on customer success
When asked about the difference between Growcer container farming units and competitor units, Stephanie explains that The Growcer is strongly focused on providing customers with easy-to-use technology and the technical support needed to reach their primary goal: bringing local produce to their communities.
“The farm is built to be user-friendly and so that you can repair it yourself without needing a specialized mechanic. Since we’ve been doing this for a while, we usually already know what the grower needs to do in case of an issue and we can walk them through it remotely,” explains Stephanie.
A new Growcer farm being prepped for shelving and electrical
In March 2020, the company redesigned its hydroponic systems, switching from nutrient film technique to deep water culture to improve space and resource use efficiency as well as durability. The Growcer has also shifted from upcycling shipping containers to designing its own containers made with structural insulated panels (SIP) which offer higher insulation factors, energy efficiency and temperature control.
New deals and expanding office space
Growcer works with more than 20 growers and has recently closed deals on ten additional farms including projects in Sheshegwaning First Nation and Altario School in Alberta.
Sheshegwaning First Nation’s Growcer farm ready to be transported
While it builds out new projects across Canada, the company is also expanding internally by moving into its own office space, diversifying its R&D portfolio and hiring new team members. In December 2020, the company had 17 employees but has since hired an additional nine team members.
“Overall, Growcer can be summarized as a Canadian agtech startup demonstrating strong growth and satisfying customers looking for accessible vertical farming solutions,” says Stephanie.
For more information: