Retrieving a second-hand system via Equipped

Hydragreens bringing leafy greens to Calgary

“We originally planned for expansion and have 30% growth factor in our current building. We can also add another wing and increase production capacity by 100%,” says Marc Schulz, co-founder of vertical farm Hydragreens.

Hydragreens was established by husband-and-wife duo, Marc and Joy, who wanted to bring local and nutritious product to the Calgary area. The pair decided to build a vertical farm on the west side of Calgary and opted for the Cubic Farms production modules. Hydragreens designated two units for propagation and twenty modules for production.

Altogether, the farm has an approximate footprint of four acres and can produce 5040 heads of lettuce, 11088 herb plugs or roughly 288 kg of microgreens per day, assuming all modules are planted with a single crop type. Currently, Hydragreens produces living lettuce, basil, herbs and microgreens in its production modules.

Equipment purchased from Equipped
With capital expenditures being considerably high in vertical farming, Hydragreens took another route by finding and purchasing pre-owned indoor agriculture equipment through Equipped, a large online marketplace allowing growers to buy and sell equipment. Equipped is a platform hosted by Contain Ag. whose mission is to empower indoor agriculture by facilitating insurance, leasing and equipment purchase.

“Our experience with Equipped and Contain was good. Equipped website was easy to navigate and once our offer was accepted, it was handed to Contain who did a great job of helping us line up everything needed for trucking and packaging.

Designed for high energy efficiency
Rather than retrofitting a warehouse or other space, Hydragreens designed and built its facility from the ground up. To supplement the facility’s power demand, Hydragreens installed 1044 solar panels on the roof which generate roughly 50% of the required energy. Further, Hydragreens recovers the waste heat and recirculates it to heat the building, thereby reducing electricity and natural gas requirements for heating.

“A built-for-purpose building was designed from the ground up to be highly efficient and long term sustainable. Considerable research was done before settling on the growing techniques and type of vertical farm,” says Marc.

Feeding Calgary in more ways than one
Hydragreens sells most of its produce through local grocers and restaurants, with its 3-ton refrigerated truck facilitating deliveries of roughly 7200 heads of lettuce at a time. In addition to its retail sales, Hydragreens also provides greens to the Calgary Zoo, local farms and to three local food banks (Calgary and Airdrie Food banks and The Mustard Seed).

“We’ve learned a lot in researching different manufacturers and their systems. But there is still a lot to learn and know. We are also working on developing educational materials pertaining to vertical farming,” says Marc.

Hydragreens is also focused on hiring local labor and has hired six full-time employees. Among the company’s hires is their head grower, who trained at Niagara and Olds College. The Hydragreens team is consistently trialing new varieties and crops in its Cubic Farms’ modules and is looking forward to expanding its operations to increase capacity and deliver fresh produce to Calgary and surrounding regions.

For more information:
Marc Schulz, Founder and CEO 

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