Canada imports most of the produce that is consumed by its residents. Transporting produce over long distances requires fruits and vegetables that have been grown with durability in mind. Retailers expect these products to look appetizing when they arrive. Produce that is genetically manufactured for durability can also suffer from a compromised taste.
In 2020 the Province of Alberta government reported that only seven indoor vertical farms were operating in the province (including warehouses and transport containers). Canadian officials noted that the country’s lack of indoor growing facilities not only put them behind other countries, it also was not efficiently utilizing what local crops were being harvested. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the foreign import supply of fresh produce, further exposing the challenges with locally grown products.
More indoor farming needed to improve Canada’s agricultural self-sufficiency
In 2021, Alberta government officials offered incentives to growers to expand commercial indoor farming. GoodLeaf Farms received a $2.73-million incentive from the government and is building a 74,000 square foot indoor growing facility complete with LED grow lights and is projected to be completed by the end of 2022.
NuLeaf Farms is a small vertical farming operation that opened recently in Alberta. NuLeaf converted a 900-square-meter warehouse into a vertical farming facility capitalizing on LED grow lights to increase plant production. Growing 365 days with predictable yields has profited NuLeaf, and they hope to open another facility soon.
Vertical farming may be the answer to many issues in Alberta. Alberta is looking into vacant office buildings as vertical farms. Using empty office buildings and turning them into vertical farms would enable utilization of existing structures to provide the much-needed space.
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