The Government of Alberta introduced Monday the first of four approved Investment and Growth Fund projects, which promise to bring development and innovation to the province.
The first project is an indoor vertical farm, which will be situated in Calgary’s southeast industrial area on 108 Avenue.
GoodLeaf Farms, an Ontario-based corporation and creator of the project, received $2.73 million from the province’s government to incentivize the company’s expansion into Western Canada. GoodLeaf guarantees its projects will create 70 permanent positions and 50 temporary jobs.
The vertical farm will be 74,000 square feet and will be able to support the production of fresh produce year-round.
“Vertical farming … from the outside it looks like a standard warehouse industrial space, on the inside, it’s outfitted with a lot of technology,” Jeff McKinnon, senior vice-president at GoodLeaf Farms said in a Monday press conference.
“Our world-class proprietary technology is a blend of LED lighting, water management, air flow automation. It results in 95% less water consumption but also results in roughly 50 times the output capacity of traditional agriculture. Our model is immune to weather events and weather patterns, which allows us to grow the safe, clean product in an indoor environment. We’re able to eliminate the use of any chemicals – no pesticides, no herbicides. It also allows us to test the product, so before our product leaves the facility, it’s been tested to ensure it’s safe, meaning there’s no human pathogens within the product,” McKinnon said.
“About 90% of the leafy greens consumed in Canada are currently imported,” said Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development Minister Nate Horner. “(This project is) creating a consistent and reliable food source for Albertans. This is an important step towards providing local alternatives in our produce aisles which are highly dominate by important from the Southern U.S. Or Mexico.”
Horner said in a release Monday that Alberta’s agri-food industry is expected to lead provincial economic recovery and inspire market growth.
“This innovative project is a step in the right direction – creating jobs, providing an economic boost to the region and building a sustainable, local source for year-round greens in Alberta,” he said.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News