Leafy green vegetables grow on pink lit shelves.

Photo Credit: Cubic Farms System Corp | cubicfarms.com

No Room to Grow Out? Grow Up!

Locally grown food is good for everybody

This Campbell River company is turning the old pulp mill site into a high-tech farm

You might have heard this stat before: 90 percent of the food we buy on VanIsle comes from somewhere else.

In an emergency, we’d be out of food pretty quick. That’s not the best case scenario.

It also means that there’s plenty of opportunity for us to support local farming.

There are thousands of farmers on VanIsle. They bring food to markets and grocery stores. But they’re retiring, and land is getting expensive. It’s getting harder to keep a farm in the family.

But what if you could grow a whole lot of food without using much land?

A business outside of Campbell River is making moves to do just that.

Imagine you could plant 52 plants on one square foot of land instead of one? And grow them year round?

And use 95 percent less water than field farming, PLUS no pesticides, or herbicides?

It sounds space-age, but that’s what CubicFarm Systems is doing. They use a vertical farming system, which means they stack their veggies. They’re able to transform steel box crates into food-producing powerhouses.

Founded in Langley BC, now they’re partnering up to make moves on NorthIsle.

You know the old Elk Falls pulp mill by Campbell River?

Well, a space that was formerly used to crush plants is going to grow them.

NTE Discovery Park sits on the old pulp mill site. They’ve bought an initial 26 CubicFarm System indoor growing modules to grow leafy greens. But the intention is to buy and build another 100 later on.

John Tang is the Chief Executive Officer of NTE Discovery Park. “Building and operating vertical farms in Western Canada has a dual purpose of providing communities with better access to delicious fresh food year-round without importing 90% of it over long distances, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of food delivered to consumers,” he said.

In plain English, he means we’ll be able to grow more food on VanIsle all year round and save on transportation to boot.

As the company’s North American manufacturing partner, NTE Discovery Park will also make major hardware components for other CubicFarms installations. That should bring in even more jobs to the region.

Andrea Magee is CubicFarm’s director of communications. She told the Campbell River Mirror that it’ll be a few years before the site starts producing, well, produce. The agreement to buy, build, and operate the modules is just the first step.

“I think people are really going to appreciate having something fresh and local that’s grown in their community,” she said.

If you want to see just how it works, check out this video.

Otherwise, prepare to eat good. :]