Canada: How the Growcer has 50 vertical farms in place

In 2016, Ellis and Burke began retrofitting shipping containers so they could be used as vertical farms, which led to the birth of their Ottawa-based social enterprise Growcer. It seemed the right fit for the pair who had been looking into social enterprise, i.e. the concept of using business tools to solve a social or environmental problem.

Can their idea make a difference? In total, about 55 Growcer vertical farms are now in use across Canada. One of those growing units is owned and operated by the co-op grocery store in Yellowknife, so it now has a secure year-round supply of fresh leafy greens, including kale, spinach, bok choy, herbs, and lettuces.

This hyper-local strategy could help ease food insecurity in Canada’s North, says Thomas Graham, director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) at the University of Guelph. 

While most vertical farming facilities to date are focused on microgreens, baby greens, and leafy greens, Graham says there is no limit to what could be grown with proper research and investment. 

In the next five to 10 years, Graham thinks we’ll see many other improvements in addition to optimizing their management of light. Some of these changes would involve an increase in the type of crops that are grown, including those with a higher caloric content than leafy greens, as well as more culturally relevant foods and traditional Indigenous foods. 

Read the entire article at Country Guide


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