Vertically farmed lettuce represents the future of agriculture as regular supply chain disruptions in traditional crop farming due to the weather, climate, and contamination remain as uncertain as ever. For the fast-growing Canadian vertical farm, Vision Greens, growing perfect and affordable lettuce is the ultimate aim.
According to Karen Gold, Head of Marketing for Vision Greens, while many industries struggled during the hard Covid lockdown years, they began selling in 2021, starting with two key customers. “Today, Vision Greens has grown to over 300 points of distribution, and our demand is now outstripping our supply. We grow four different kinds of lettuce, Crunchy Green Leaf, Sweet Baby Romaine, Cherry Kiss Red Leaf, Fancy Spring Mix, and Zesty Arugula. We have an expanding, loyal consumer base that considers us best in class for quality, taste, and shelf life. Our farm is currently yielding over half a million pounds. Vision Greens’ key customer is Metro, which is one of the top three Grocery Chains in Canada. Vision Greens products can be found at all Metro and Food Basics stores across Ontario as well as large Ontario-based Specialty Grocery store chains such as Pusateri’s, Summerhill Market, and Goodness Me. Lettuce prices range from $3. 98 - $4.99 and $3.77 and $4.49 on feature.”
Vision Greens is a vertical farming operation located in Welland, Ontario, born from a collective vision held by a group of Canadian business leaders to address mounting issues associated with imported produce. According to them, these are questionable food safety standards, lack of food traceability, increased contamination, carbon emissions, and overall poor quality.
“These visionaries recognized that vertical farming offered the opportunity to address their concerns, so they used advanced technology to develop a proprietary methodology for producing delicious, locally grown, non-GMO, pesticide-free, clean leafy greens at the lowest possible cost. Vision Greens has patented its proprietary technology and works it to outpace industry through engagement with the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph, - a facility that has studied how to grow to produce in space for over 20 years.”
“The ability for vertical farms like ours to grow and harvest consistent, high-quality produce all year long and do it sustainably and affordably makes our lettuce highly attractive to both customers and consumers given the regularity with which we see supply disruption in traditional crop farming due to weather, climate, and recalls tracing to listeriosis. During the Fall of 2022, when Canada faced a crop-grown romaine shortage, major restaurants could not offer Caesar Salad, store shelves were barren, and pricing skyrocketed; Vision Greens was able to fully supply customers while remaining affordably priced,” remembers Gold.
Technology set-up is key
“Our farm is set up with sensors and controls that we constantly monitor to ensure we optimize growing conditions by manipulating light, nutrition, irrigation, and C02 in the growing area of the farm. Our goal is always perfect lettuce. Our regular consultations with the Directors of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph and other scientists, as well as our deep industry associations and relationships, ensure we are up to speed with the latest technology in the vertical farming space. As such, we are continuously able to upgrade our proprietary tech to ensure we remain a tech leader in vertical farming,” explains Gold.
Expansion plans across Canada into U.S.
Vision Greens has received its Food Safety Certification from Canada GAP and is also non-GMO certified and endorsed as a local grower by Foodland Ontario while in the process of becoming Kosher certified too.
“We are currently selling our lettuce in Ontario, Canada, and have plans for expansion across the country and into the US. Every day consumers write to us to tell us how much they love our lettuce. One woman said, ‘God Bless You for bringing Canada such wonderful lettuce.’ It is so gratifying to know we are doing something good and how much consumers value local produce,” states Gold.