VANCOUVER—Alterrus Systems Inc. announced it will begin building North America’s first VertiCrop urban farming system on the top level of a downtown Vancouver parking lot.
Alterrus’s VertiCrop vertical-farming technology uses hydroponic technology to grow leafy green vegetables and herbs in a greenhouse without the use of pesticides or herbicides, the company said in a statement.
Its produce will be transported directly to local Vancouver markets, significantly reducing its carbon footprint.
The produce, to be sold under the Local Garden brand, will be available in Vancouver in October.
“The VertiCrop technology represents a radical shift in sustainable food production,” Alterrus CEO Christopher Ng said in a statment. “Current food-production methods are ineffective in dealing with the challenges of growing populations and decreasing amounts of farmland (and) VertiCrop’s high-density urban farming is an effective way to grow nutritious food using fewer land and water resources than traditional field-farming methods.”
The produce will be packaged on site and can be delivered to markets in the city the same day as harvest.
“The smaller carbon footprint involved is a critical point,” Ng said. “Food production represents one of the world’s largest sources of unwanted gas emissions.”
Alterrus expects the VertiCrop facility to produce more than 150,000 pounds annually.
The facility will be 5,700 square feet, with 4,000 square feet devoted to growing the produce in trays, stacked 12 high and circulating on conveyer belts.
The remaining 1,700 square feet will be used for picking and packaging, according to Alterrus.
It will use less than 10 per cent of the water required for traditional field agriculture, while producing significantly higher yields compared to field-farmed produce.
All of the excess water used will be recycled.
Alterrus’s urban farm will operate year-round.
Its controlled growing environment shelters its produce from contamination, natural disasters and irregular weather patterns that are challenges for growers of traditional field produce.
“That reliability offers benefits to the retailer and consumer,” Ng said. “This nutritious produce can be grown and delivered to our customers any time throughout the year.”