CAN: How this year-round indoor farm is tackling food insecurity

Newfoundland and Labrador's winter weather might not present the best opportunities for growing fruits and vegetables, but a Mount Pearl farming business is bringing things inside to tackle food security year-round. Green Farm N.L. launched in early 2020 with the goal of providing accessible and affordable produce for residents in the province. But rather than traditional farming on acres of farmland, the farm uses indoor hydroponics to grow crops all 12 months of the year — in a warehouse in Mount Pearl.

"It was kind of just a pilot project to prove that what we're claiming, that we can be producing food year-round here, is actually possible," Green Farm CEO Scott Neary told. "In our first year, we were able to produce all of our products year-round and we really started to gain some traction."

The project began as a business idea for Neary, who comes from a science and engineering background rather than agriculture. "When I was looking for a business to start, I was trying to solve a big problem. When I assessed what my home province needed, food security was on the top of the list," he said. "It's so hard to get food here. When you leave the city and go to other communities, it's even harder and more expensive."

Using hydroponics in an insulated warehouse has its perks, he said, because it gives people the opportunity to grow whatever crop they desire at a lower environmental cost in terms of fossil fuels. "Food production is a big part of decarbonizing the world. We really need like a revolution in how we produce our food," he said. "That kind of aligns with growing up in Newfoundland. The lack of food access, it's bad enough already."

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