Skip to comments.The indoor harvest
Posted on 12/31/2016 12:48:22 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
For Randy King, the argument for indoor farming in Canada is just common sense.
For one, Canada is a northern country with long winters.
Two, during those long winters almost all fruit and vegetables in Canadian grocery stores are imported from Central America, Mexico or California.
Three, wouldnt it be better if Canadians grew their own fruits and veggies?
I think this is the way of the future for growing produce in northern regions, said King, co-owner of West Grow Farms, a company with plans to build an indoor farm near Edmonton.
In order to gain food sovereignty, we need to step out of the box and revolutionize how we approach growing produce . Relying on other countries to feed us in the winter time, Im not certain thats going to be sustainable.
In 2016, King and his business partner, Jim Philpott, signed a licensing deal with Indoor Farms of America, a company from the United States, to its technology.
Indoor Farms of America has developed a proprietary method to grow fruits and vegetables inside based on a technique called aeroponics.
Plants are grown without soil in aeroponics. The suspended roots are misted with nutrient-rich water.
Proponents of aeroponics say it can grow greens such as kale and spinach, or herbs like basil and sage, without the use of pesticides.
Large scale indoor farms, or vertical farms, are already growing produce in cities across North America.
◾This year AeroFarms of Newark, New Jersey, built a 70,000 sq. foot vertical farm in a former steel mill. When fully operational, it will likely be the largest vertical farm in the world.
◾The word vertical is used to describe indoor farms because trays of plants are typically stacked inside the building, reaching toward the ceiling.
◾Chicago may have the most vertical farms of any major city in North America. Its sometimes described as Americas urban farming capital.
◾In Canada, dozens of companies are planning to construct or are building indoor farms, but its difficult to know how many are in operation.
King, who operates a couple of construction companies, became aware of the concept when a client asked him to design an indoor farm.
The project may have stalled, but it sparked Kings interest.
You look at the nutritional value of a head of lettuce thats been in transit for a couple of weeks, its probably diminished to the (point) where were eating straw, said King, who grew up on a farm near Edmonton.
Supporters say vertical farms may revolutionize agriculture because plants grown indoors mature more quickly and can be harvested 10, 15 or 20 times annually, rather than two or three times a year for outdoor crops.
True believers go further. They say indoor agriculture will save the world.
If vertical farming in urban centres becomes the norm, then one anticipated long-term benefit would be the gradual repair of many of the worlds damaged ecosystems through the systematic abandonment of farmland, said Dickson Despommier, author of The Vertical Farm and host of the Urban Agriculture podcast. The re-growth of hardwood forests could play a significant role in carbon sequestration and may help reverse current trends in global climate change.
But environmental groups say vertical farms use an incredible amount of energy on artificial lights.
Producing Americas annual vegetable crop (not counting potatoes) in vertical systems under lights would require well over half of the electricity this country generates every year, wrote Stan Cox of The Land Institute, a group that supports sustainable agriculture, in Salon magazine.
King confirmed that lights are the biggest cost and challenge of indoor farming. Optimizing lighting for maximum growth is complex and the cost of LED lights can run into the millions.
But if growers get the lighting right, indoor farming can produce a huge quantity of leafy greens and other vegetables.
We can get 157,000 plant sites in 3,200 sq. feet, King said.
Based on West Grows trials, plants can reach maturity in about 22 days. Which means 15 growing cycles per year.
Once he has a handle on the lighting, King hopes to begin construction of the indoor farm early next year, in a warehouse in the Edmonton area. The 12,000 sq. foot facility will also have a store, so customers can buy produce at the site.
The plan is to start out with leafy greens and herbs. Then, expand into tomatoes, cucumbers and other veggies.
King is convinced that Albertans want to buy locally grown veggies year round.
Talking to our potential customers the grocers, theyre extremely excited, King said. Theyre more than committed to buying local, fresh produce, 365 days of the year.
King hopes the indoor farm will be producing greens and herbs by June of 2017.
With that long, cold Canada winter night, farmers will love that light bill.
There should be plenty of available warehouse space in Alberta, and even more coming onto the market! With Premier Nnutley’s beloved carbon tax starting tomorrow, gas has already hit $1.10/ litre, up from 92¢/ litre on Monday, and the price is expected to go even higher. The tax, at $20/ tonne of CO2, will be yet another kick at our economy. Well done comrade Nutley! Between you and Turd-owe, you make Obloviate look like a piker, at killing an economy!
Broncobama only has 20 days left.
Broncobama only has 20 days left.
Thank you, Jesus!
“With that long, cold Canada winter night, farmers will love that light bill.”
what about the heat bill? unless they can co-locate these “indoor-farms” near output water heated by waste heat from power plants, I would think their heat bills would make all of this impractical. Or perhaps they just put them underground and the light bill is the main energy input after all.
Light from relatively efficient sources (LED shows promise) and warmth from tapping geothermal sources (by drilling a really DEEP shaft and using it as an injection well with a return pipeline) can mimic optimal growing conditions. The capital investment may be quite high, but savings in transportation costs, much more efficient use of labor and other operational inputs, and application of a number of known intensive farming techniques may make such farms a practical enterprise in the future. Placing them in a specifically designed high-rise structure, taking advantage of the waste heat that is all around in an intensely developed urban area, and with light conduction from the sun to the lower levels of the structure, may take the food production much closer to the population centers than is now the norm.
As the old fellow says, not farming nearly as well as I know how to.
1. Highly controlled growing environment with very little need for expensive herbicides, insecticides and possibly a lot less fertilizer usage.
2. Harvests 10 to 20 times per year.
3. Very low transportation costs, since we don't have to ship the harvested food hundreds to thousands of miles.
4. A lot less need for massive amounts of land for farms.
The technology is not completely mature, but once it does, imagine just about all your vegetables truly available fresh essentially year-round locally.
If vertical farming becomes the normal way to produce vegetables it will lead to much faster closing off of the King's Forest to common people. Most of the world will become the preserve only of the Elite. The UN has envisioned that and the USA has been working to put it all into effect. Private property in the USA has already mostly ceased to exist with government units able to confiscate land and everything else just because a bureaucrat wants it. All he has to do is get a LEA to allege that a crime has been committed in proximity to the property desired and the police or any other agency can then seize the property for whatever use is in mind. Technically the "owner" can retrieve the property but he has to put up a surety bond to some percentage of the imputed value of the seized property then prove it has never ever been used in connection with anything illegal.
Without the WOD and just say no, cannabis growers would still be growing outdoors, and most of the technology to grow indoors would not exist.
Think of our current agriculture business as “mainframe” farming. These folks are talking about introducing the minicomputer of farming. The logical conclusion is personal farming, where your fruits (well, berries at least) and vegetables are produced at home. IKEA will produce flat-pack personal farms (or you can 3D-print your own) and everyone who wants to will grow exactly the produce they want, about as “local” as you can imagine.
At only double the price of imported produce. But Canadian Content laws will force them to eat it.
That is a very unique way of looking at it. I’m sure there is some truth to it. I like it. Kudos to you.
However, we’ll still need convention land farming for staple crops like corn, wheat, oats, rice, sorghum, and millet.
I couldn’t agree more.
What possible hindrances would keep them from growing crops inside old abandoned mines. Could there be artificial light brought in to give photosynthesis to plants and grow all year long, underground....
A multibillionaire acquaintance is in Africa right now, buying up land to put in trust so that greedy entrepreneurs won’t be able to spoil it.
I suppose the goal is turn the world into northern California, where only the rich can afford to live, surrounded by large tracts of land set aside (by the rich) to prevent the hot-polloi from infesting it.
Here is a video of my builds of lettuce towers worked very nice this summer. I would like to move it indoors but don’t get enough light upstairs. I have two thousand watt bulbs but they can run up the electric bill. Still might get it hooked up.
We watched a show called Homestead Rescue where the rescue team went to a Montana homestead high in the mountains. They excavated a south-facing embankment and created a log greenhouse with a rear rock wall which collected solar energy during the day and warmed the plants at night to keep them from freezing. Reminded me of the earthship concept.
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