CAN (AB): The couple behind Vertical Roots' site in Edmonton

Mike and Becky Newhook never dreamed they'd become farmers. Now, the couple owns and operates a container farm business in south Edmonton, a thriving operation that's become even more competitive because of inflation and supply chain shortages. 

"Five years ago, if you had told us we were going to be farmers, we would have laughed you out of the room," said Becky. "I had never planted a seed in my life," added Mike. Mike spent 20 years running his own information and technology support business. Becky was in marketing.

The transition began in 2018 when the couple visited friends in the Philippines struggling with a farming operation. Mike suggested aquaponics farming as a quicker way to grow leafier green vegetables. 

The project bloomed, and the Newhooks relocated their family to the Philippines temporarily while they built two aquaponics commercial farms, producing over 20,000 heads of lettuce monthly. 

Back home in Tofield in 2020, the onset of COVID-19 found Mike experimenting in his garage with a test farm using hydroponics and a vertical growing apparatus that saved on square footage. 

With the help of a bridge loan from family, the couple launched a prototype farm and, within a year, were averaging 300 heads of lettuce per week (with an equal number of customers). Vertical Roots Canada was born, relocating to Edmonton in 2022, when the business needed space to grow. 

Read the entire article at Alberta Prime Times

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