“At our bison and beef farm, we had a riding arena that we always wanted to convert to vertical farming. When we saw what Jack Ng had built with Sky Greens in Singapore, we went there, hit it off and brought back the technology and reconditioned our arena into a vertical farm,” says Bob Strawman of Strawman Farms Inc.
Aside from having its own indoor farming facility in the retrofitted arena, Strawman Farms Inc. also acquired the Sky Greens distribution rights for North America. Sky Greens’ vertical farming technology consists of growing towers of variable sizes, providing the grower with flexibility when choosing their system. Sky Greens’ growing towers are double-sided, with its stacked growing racks on either side of its A-frame base and rotating to ensure that light reaches the plant canopy uniformly. The tallest model is 9 m tall and has 38 shelves holding 8 trays each. In each tray, 3-6 plants can be grown. This brings the total production capacity per 9-m tower to 912-1824 plants.
“When you grow something in a greenhouse, the number of plants dictates your income and the typical planting density is 5 plants per square meter. With a 9-m tall tower, you get 219 plants per square meter,” explains Bob.
Sky Greens Canada
Strawman Farms Inc. also offers Sky Greens’ 3-meter and 6-meter growing towers which can house roughly 800 and 1200 plants, respectively. Custom-built systems are also an option to fit different facilities. In all cases, the grower needs only a single-phase electrical supply offering 40 watt-hours per tower. Together, Strawman Farms Inc. and Sky Greens offer a very customer-forward approach focused on providing both vertical farming technology and support to growers.
“Our farm is our test facility, where we’re figuring out the standard operating procedures. We offer total support to our clients from us and the Sky Greens team in Singapore,” says Bob.
Sky Greens’ MicroFarm model
In addition to its vertical farming systems, Sky Greens has developed its MicroFarm franchise model that combines its patented vertical farming system, modular container farms, aquaculture and local produce to create a food hub.
By adding adjacent facilities such as dining areas, corporate space and hotel stays, the MicroFarm model envisions a multi-income, resilient facility that emphasizes local food and local business. Sky Greens is developing various hub models aimed at creating self-sustaining food systems that provide consumers with a variety of locally produced food items.
As they focus on the growing towers for now, Bob, his wife Lori, his sons Stephan, Dylan, and Liam along with an amazing team are eager to bring Sky Greens technology to North America and see the industry continue to grow.