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Indoor Ag-Con Announces New CEA Food Safety 2024 Pre-Event Workshop

Leading Vertical Farming | CEA Trade Show Partners With Ceres University To Host ‘Internal Review’ Class The Day Before Indoor Ag-Con 2024 Opens In Las Vegas

Indoor Ag-Con, the largest trade show and conference for vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture(CEA), has partnered with Ceres University, a leading provider of ICET-accredited food safety training and certification, to host a CEA Food Safety Workshop ahead of the March 11-12, 2024 edition of Indoor Ag-Con at Caesars Forum, Las Vegas. Scheduled for Sunday, March 10, 2024 from 1-5 pm, the “Internal Review Class” is designed to help industry professionals build their careers and prepare to meet the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) requirement for internal auditing certification.

Internal audit certification is a mandatory requirement of the GFSI as it demonstrates an individual’s ability to conduct internal assessments of any food safety program.  By developing and maintaining a robust and effective internal audit system, operations can enhance their food safety and food quality processes through actionable improvements. This CEA Food Safety Workshop will provide valuable insights into best practices and common mistakes to avoid for successful programs, as outlined by a GFSI level professor in Food Science.

“We are thrilled to add this important CEA Food Safety Workshop to our growing line-up of educational offerings,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO of Indoor Ag-Con. “Food safety is of paramount importance in today’s rapidly evolving CEA industry, and our collaboration with Ceres University underscores our dedication to arming our attendees with the necessary skills to meet global standards.”

“Partnering with Indoor Ag-Con to host the CEA Food Safety Workshop is an exciting opportunity for Ceres University,” adds Karl Kolb, Ph.D., President, Ceres University. “Our aim is to empower professionals in the CEA industry with the knowledge and skills required to achieve and maintain the highest food safety standards. This workshop will provide attendees with proven tools and insights needed to enhance their internal audit processes and drive continuous improvement in their operations.”

The registration fee for the workshop is $575 which includes:

  • Admission to 4-hour workshop and course materials
  • Ability to earn up to 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) upon completion  
  • Indoor Ag-Con Expo Hall Only Pass, which includes access to Expo Floor March 11-12, 2024; admission to all Indoor Ag-Con Expo Theater presentations; Expo Floor Welcome Happy Hour; and access to expo floor of National Grocers Association (NGA) Show running concurrently at Caesars Forum.

The workshop is designed for anyone in the CEA industry dedicated to ensuring the highest standards of food safety and quality, including food safety managers, quality assurance professionals, compliance officers, and executives with a vested interest in protecting their brand’s reputation.  

CEA summit instructorsWorkshop instructors include Dr. Karl Kolb, president of Ceres University and Ceres Certifications, International (CCI) and Kellie Worrell, GlobalG.A.P. Scheme Manager, CCI.  Dr. Kolb is a  microbiologist with a quality background and more than 30 years as an industry professional. In addition to her current role with CCI, Kellie Worrell has managed the Food Safety Program for multiple vegetable farms, including a wide variety of crops. CCI features GLOBALG.A.P. among its many GFSI food safety schemes.

During the workshop attendees will learn how to organize an internal auditing program;  master risk-based approaches; educate and empower teams to become food safety advocates; effectively document findings; conduct an interview; uncover root cases, and more.

For more information and registration details for the CEA Food Safety Workshop, visit:

About Indoor Ag-Con

Indoor Ag-Con is the premier global event series focused on the future of indoor farming. Since 2013, the trade show and conference, the industry’s largest, has been at the forefront of the rapidly expanding vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture sector, providing a platform for industry leaders, innovators, and researchers to connect, share knowledge, and drive the industry forward. More information –

About Ceres University:

Ceres University is a leading provider of ICET-accredited food safety training and certification. With a mission to enhance food safety and quality through education, Ceres University equips professionals in the food industry with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in their careers and ensure the highest standards of safety and quality. More information –

Controlled Environment Agriculture Summit East Conference Announces Graduate Student Poster Competition

10 Finalists Will Be Invited To Present Posters At September 19-20, 2023, Edition at IALR Conference Center In Danville, Virginia

DANVILLE, VA (June 29, 2023) — The Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East Conference will host a graduate student poster competition during its 2nd annual edition, September 19-20, 2023, at the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research (IALR) Conference Center in Danville, Virginia. Co-hosted by Indoor Ag-Con, the largest gathering of the vertical farming | CEA sector, and the Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center, a joint project between IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center, CEA Summit East offers an ideal platform for aspiring graduate students to showcase their research in the field of CEA-related research.

By encouraging students to showcase their work through poster presentations, the competition seeks to foster collaboration opportunities between individuals in academia and private industry, while also connecting commercial companies with qualified candidates.

“We are proud to co-host the graduate student poster competition at the CEA Summit East Conference,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. “This competition not only provides a great platform for students to share their research, but also enables commercial companies to discover talented individuals who can contribute to the future growth and innovation of the CEA sector.”

The Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center is dedicated to advancing research and development in CEA. The center’s Co-Director and IALR Vice President, Scott Lowman, Ph.D., adds, “The graduate student poster competition is one more way we’re bridging the gap between academia and industry, promoting knowledge exchange, and opening doors to new collaboration in the CEA field.”

Graduate students interested in participating in the competition are invited to learn more and submit abstracts detailing their research by August 9, 2023, via  A panel of experts will review the abstracts and select ten finalists to present their work through poster presentations at the conference. Selected candidates will receive a complimentary full access graduate student conference pass ($395 value) to attend the conference/competition. Judging will be held during the event and the winner will be announced at the day two keynote breakfast session on September 20, 2023.

Following its successful debut edition in October 2022, which brought together more than 200 attendees from 28 states, CEA Summit East 2023 will continue to foster connections and collaboration among growers, educators, scientists, extension specialists, suppliers, engineers, tech specialists, architect/developers and other industry members. Throughout the two-day event attendees will have the opportunity to explore the latest innovations from tabletop exhibitors, enjoy networking opportunities, and attend a full roster of keynote, panel presentations and research/industry showcases.

For more information about the graduate student poster competition and the September 19-20, 2023, edition of CEA Summit East, visit the conference website at

Indoor Ag-Con is the premier global event series focused on the future of indoor farming. Since 2013, the trade show and conference, the industry’s largest, has been at the forefront of the rapidly expanding vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture sector, providing a platform for industry leaders, innovators, and researchers to connect, share knowledge, and drive the industry forward. More information –

The Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center is a joint project between IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center.  By developing strategic partnerships with both industry and academia, the goal of the Innovation Center is to conduct research and educational programming to develop, promote and advance the CEA sector in the U.S. and internationally.  More information:

Bridging The Gap Between Genetics and Indoor Growing Needs: Sakata Seed Cultivates CEA Success

Q&A With Tracy Lee Zogby, Head of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Department, Sakata Seed America

Sakata Seed Indoor Ag-ConHarnessing the power of existing genetics and strategic collaborations, Sakata Seed is providing quality seeds, exceptional service, and robust support to meet the diverse needs and demands of the rapidly expanding controlled environment agriculture (CEA) market.  We had the chance to catch up with Tracy Lee Zogby, CEA Lead, Sakata Seed America, to learn more about the company’s goals and objectives for its CEA department. We talk about some of Sakata’s outstanding varieties, the challenges and opportunities that CEA presents, upcoming advancements and innovations in seed development for indoor growers and more.

Sakata SeedTell us about the main goals and objectives of Sakata Seed’s CEA division?  How does it support the needs and demands of greenhouse grower, vertical farm operators  and other indoor growers in the sector?

In 2019, Sakata Seed America began to pivot focus to an array of existing genetics that show exceptional promise in the CEA market.  We quickly noticed the synergy between the emerging and exponentially growing CEA market and our existing crop business groups. Currently, we are partnering with key market growers to extensively trial existing worldwide Sakata genetics that showed promise for indoor and CEA environments. Through strategic collaborations, exceptional genetics, and continued breeding efforts, coupled with expansion and investment in our Research & Development team, we feel well-equipped to grow our CEA partnerships and supply quality seed in strong supply to the category, backed by excellent service and support.

Last year, to further support the needs of the indoor grower, we launched – a full-scale, online resource cataloging of all that Sakata’s CEA program has to offer. It features the entire CEA product portfolio, downloadable literature materials and tools for cultivation success, a digital sample ordering form and trialing information, a fully responsive seed distributor map, and a staff directory for easy access to product support.


Could you provide a couple of examples of Sakata Seed’s varieties that have shown exceptional performance in indoor growing environments, and what attributes make them well-suited for CEA?

Growers have found success with several of our varieties across varied technologies. A few standouts include Mizuna Mustard Miz America, Kale Blue Ridge, and Pak Choi Joi Choi. Miz America, for example, displays an unparalleled intense color and mild flavor that makes it an ideal component in salad blends. Kale Blue Ridge has shown exceptional yields and uniformity as well as a desirable leaf texture and color. Pak Choi Joi Choi, when grown to a baby leaf stage, is flavorful, attractive, and high yielding, in addition to showing notably high post-harvest quality.


Sakata SeedShare some insights into the unique challenges and opportunities that CEA presents for seed development and production, compared to traditional outdoor farming?

Although grouped under the single broad category of ‘CEA’, indoor growers are extremely diverse in their crop needs, growing conditions, facility types and technology. I would say one of the biggest challenges in seed development is deciding exactly which traits to breed for. Success with one type of grower or technology does not translate into success with all CEA growers, even within the same facility type. We must be able to develop genetics that fulfill the broader common traits needed across the largest number of growers and then depend on growers to manipulate their different technologies and growing methods to control more individual needs within this broader framework.

However, one of the most potentially exciting opportunities that I see in developing future varieties is the ability to focus more of our breeding on consumer-driven traits such as flavor or nutrition over chasing some of the disease resistance needs for outdoor farming.

For seed production, the biggest challenge is clarity around the entire process.  Producing seed is a time intensive process, anywhere from 1 to 2 years from stock seed increases through to cleaning and testing the final crop. Having transparency in understanding the CEA growers’ seed needs in advance, both in timing and quantities, is crucial to planning and providing consistent supplies.


Sakata SeedHow do you identify and prioritize the traits and characteristics that are more important for indoor growers — are you able to collaborate with  growers  to gather feedback and insights?

At times it can be challenging to collect meaningful outside trial data to track our progress toward goals. I would like to see increased direct input from growers and eventually see some uniformity in growing systems and clearer overarching breeding goals.  We have seen the greatest successes and fastest progress when we are able to develop a trusting, open, mutually beneficial trialing collaboration with growers.


Sakata SeedCan you highlight any recent advancements or innovations in seed development within your CEA division?  What varieties or technologies can growers anticipate from Sakata Seed in the near future.

Lettuce, arugula, beet greens, mustard, and pack choi are a few of the crops on which we are gathering data and breeding,  both allowing for crossover commercial products to be used now and for key trait identification for next-generation breeding projects in the pipeline. Our breeders are analyzing traits that will allow for optimum yield, advantageous plant architecture, and noteworthy flavor and texture while displaying a spectrum of colors and textures for consumer interest.

Revolutionizing Agriculture: AdeptAg Ushers in the Era of Sustainable Vertical Farming

In the green revolution of the 21st century, one organization stands as a beacon of innovation and sustainable practices—AdeptAg. Established by CEO Rick Parod in early 2022, AdeptAg’s mission has always been to redefine the concept of farming for a more sustainable and efficient future. To that end, they’ve assembled an industry-leading ‘Family of Experts,’ absorbing forward-thinking entities like AgriNomix Automation, Bellpark Automation, Plantech Control Solutions, and Zwart Irrigation Solutions. Their unique blend of expertise in Vertical Farming and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) solutions has made them the horticulture industry’s frontrunner.

The concept of Vertical Farming is not as contemporary as it might seem, with roots plunging deep into ancient history, as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 605 BCE. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that it truly began to blossom as a practical method of farming. The turning point was during WWII, when hydroponics—a subset of Vertical Farming—was employed on a large scale to feed the Allied Forces in the South Pacific, yielding over 8,000 tons of produce. The concept was refined further at Columbia University between 1991 and 1999, under the guidance of Professor Dr. Dickson Despommier. Now hailed as the father of modern Vertical Farming, Despommier and his students successfully devised a way to sustainably feed New York City’s populace via rooftop agriculture, birthing the contemporary approach to multi-story farming.

This promising concept has seen substantial developments over the past decade, thanks to rigorous research, dedicated education, and a relentless drive for global sustainability. Vertical Farming, in conjunction with CEA practices, has enabled growers to raise crops using significantly less land and water. The cherry on top? Complete environmental control, empowering farmers to improve both crop quality and yield.

As we approach a future where our population is projected to surge to two billion within the next three decades, we must rally as a society to ensure sustainable food production. Here’s where AdeptAg steps in, poised to make a maximal impact on eco-friendly growth practices. Through its four business units, it offers an impressive array of solutions from over fourteen suppliers, catering to growers of all scales and requirements.

From the very first day, growers partnering with AdeptAg witness the benefits of a relationship forged in expertise and dedication. Recognizing the unique nature of each grower, environment, and crop, AdeptAg’s skilled team offers a personal experience, helping to formulate the best strategic decisions for your unique situation. Whether you need to augment an existing facility or seek a full-scale turnkey solution, AdeptAg aims to enhance your product quality, increase capacity, tackle labor shortages, advance sustainable practices, and ensure a return on investment.

AdeptAg’s expertise transcends size and product, serving large and small growers alike: whether they cultivate produce or cannabis, operate a vertical farm or maintain a greenhouse, use traditional practices or automation – and everything in between. Their commitment to quality care and expertise is a constant, backed by 24/7 service and support, as well as a fully equipped dedicated parts department. As we navigate the green revolution, AdeptAg leads the way, ensuring that the future of farming is sustainable, efficient, and inclusive.

To discover our solutions, visit our website:

Food Safety: Make the Most of Your Self-Assessment

No matter what type of food safety program your operation has, a self-assessment is an important component. All GFSI-benchmarked standards (such as GLOBALG.A.P., PrimusGFS, SQF, and BRC) require a self-assessment to be performed at least annually.

Do not look at the self-assessment as “another thing to be done”, but as an opportunity to give your entire food safety program a vital review. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your self-assessment.

  1. Team up. The more eyes you have looking at your processes during a self-assessment, the more you will see. Just like it is almost impossible to effectively proof-read your own writing (because you’ll aways see what you meant to say instead of what is actually written), it can be very hard to assess your own food safety program. At least one person on the team should be the trained expert, likely the Food Safety Manager, but the rest of the team can vary quite a bit. It is good to have people with “boots on the ground” involved, since they can tell you if the policy matches the practice. However, completely fresh eyes, from say, someone in administration, may prompt questions you have been overlooking or failed to consider. And the team doesn’t have to be the same for all aspects of the self-assessment—no need to keep a warehouse manager tied up for field-harvest portions of the self-assessment, for example.
  2. Be sure to conduct the self-assessment while relevant activities are taking place. Really watch what happens in daily activities to ensure that your policy is aligned with actual practices. You may need to conduct certain portions of the self-assessment at different times of the day or even different times of the year. Be sure that your self-assessment is conducted before your audit, and, vitally, far enough in advance to sufficiently address any non-conformances you identify.
  3. As you conduct your self-assessment, be sure to focus on the process not the product. For example, a bin of apples may look great, but did you witness the process of harvesting this bin of apples to make sure all food safety risks were mitigated to the best extent possible? Even better than observing a good result (such as the nice bin of apples) is a chance to observe what is done when something goes wrong—how do the workers react, are they trained in what to do, did the process work to catch the problem?
  4. Document, document, document. As we say in food safety, if it isn’t documented it didn’t happen! In a self-assessment especially, documentation is vital (and required by most schemes). Go by the standard point-by-point and document evidence that each requirement is being met. Non-conformances MUST be well-documented. Be sure to document who is responsible for each required corrective action, and the timeframe within which it is to be completed. And of course, FOLLOW UP! Make sure the corrective actions effectively addressed the non-conformances that were found.
  5. Communicate to Management. A self-assessment that never leaves the food safety office does not have nearly the power of a self-assessment whose results are communicated to management. Although it may not be pleasant, management really does want to know where operational improvements can be made. Every operation can develop blind spots, but an effective self-assessment can identify and correct these. Additionally, it is far better to learn of these opportunities from an internal self-assessment (and it’s corresponding corrective actions) than from a third-party auditor where consequences can be greater. Some of the non-conformances identified by the food safety self-assessment may be indicative of broader issues across the operation.

Conducted correctly, a self-assessment can be the most powerful component of a food safety plan. This “check-up from the neck up” can get you in great shape for your audit and, more importantly, bring meaningful improvements to your operation.

About Kellie Worrell
Kellie Worrell has an extensive background in Agriculture and Food Safety. She has written several accurate ag children’s books, including the Virginia Ag In the Classroom Book of the Year. She has served as Food Safety Officers for farms with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, and is currently the GLOBALG.A.P. Scheme Manager at Ceres Certifications, International (CCI). CCI offers a wide range of food safety certifications. For more information visit


About Ceres Certifications, International
Ceres Certifications, International (CCI) has been serving the produce industry since 2021. CCI offers a wide variety of 3rd party food safety certifications, including both GFSI-benchmarked standards and more basic audits. Connect with its experienced Scheme Managers to discuss the extensive CCI offerings, including GLOBALG.A.P. IFA, HPSS, PHA, localg.a.p., a variety of GG add-ons, PrimusGFS, PrimusStandard, SQF, and more. Learn more.


Hydrofarm and CEA Advisors Announce Strategic Alliance

hydrofarm and growtainer Hydrofarm Holdings Group, Inc. (“Hydrofarm”), a leading manufacturer and distributor of equipment and supplies for controlled environment agriculture (“CEA”), today announced that it has entered into an exclusive strategic alliance with CEA Advisors, a global design/build consultancy to the vertical farming industry and manufacturer of Growtainers® and Growracks®, to accelerate their expansion into the growing and evolving CEA space for both food and non-food production.

(Photo above — (L-R) Glenn Behrman and Chris Mayer – compliments of Vertical Farm Daily)

Hydrofarm’s Innovative Growers Equipment (“IGE”) commercial division will serve as the North American manufacturing and marketing hub for Growtainers® and Growracks®. IGE’s Sycamore, Illinois facility combines manufacturing, research and development, and warehouse space serving the global market.

“We are excited about our relationship with Glenn Behrman and CEA Advisors. It will bring great enhancements to the creative solutions and support we provide to the CEA market,” said Chris Mayer, SVP and Head of Hydrofarm Commercial. “Our priority is to be one of the most important global providers of CEA products and services. We believe that the CEA industry has tremendous potential, and we are very excited to have a 50-year veteran of the global horticulture industry on our team.”

“Working with the Hydrofarm team, IGE, and Chris Mayer is a dream come true for a company like CEA Advisors,” said Glenn. “I’m convinced that collaboration is the key to success in today’s challenging economic environment. We strongly believe that in CEA, there is great opportunity for new farmers globally, and that is why our first initiative will be the design and distribution of an affordable entry level Growtainer®. The beginning CEA farmer can learn and experience this type of production with minimal investment and then move on to other more sophisticated systems that are available.”

About Hydrofarm Holdings Group, Inc.

Hydrofarm is a leading independent manufacturer and distributor of branded hydroponics equipment and supplies for controlled environment agriculture, including grow lights, climate control solutions, growing media and nutrients, as well as a broad portfolio of innovative and proprietary branded products. For over 40 years, Hydrofarm has helped growers make growing easier and more productive. The Company’s mission is to empower growers, farmers and cultivators with products that enable greater quality, efficiency, consistency and speed in their grow projects.

About CEA Advisors LLC

CEA Advisors provides Consulting services on the global development of turnkey innovative investment grade indoor farming projects from concept to implementation, including design, engineering, technology procurement, installation, and hands on project management for a wide variety of international clients including Start-Ups, Biotechnology firms, Government Agencies, Universities, Commercial Growers, Researchers, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Food Manufacturers, Food Processors and Grocery Retailers.

Glenn Behrman has always been a disruptor and an industry pioneer, a hands-on “C’ level executive in the Horticulture industry for over 50 years and laser focused for the past 13 years on Controlled Environment Agriculture as founder and President of CEA Advisors LLC.

Winter Farm Cultivates Success With Integrated Farming Approach, Sustainable Solutions


Winter Farm Q&A with Indoor Ag-Con
Winter Farm leaders (L-R) Yves Daoust, Founder and CTO and Alain Brisebois, President and CEO

Winter Farm’s focus on environmental sustainability, achieving food autonomy, and strategic partnerships has garnered attention and headlines, with recent funding of $46 million raising the bar for its ambitious goals. Indoor Ag-Con had the chance to catch up with the innovative Quebec-based company’s leaders — Yves Daoust, Founder and CTO (pictured above left) and Alain Brisebois, President and CEO (pictured above right)  — to discuss the advantages of their approach, their goal of helping growers replace 10% of Canada’s strawberry imports, the renowned Fraise d’hiver strawberry, funding strategies and future opportunities in the CEA industry.

 Winter Farm is described as a “tech company that designs, deploys, and operates controlled environment agriculture (CEA) solutions that work in harmony with existing agrifood systems.” Can you share how your technology and approach differ from other vertical farms and advantages it offers in terms of yield, quality, and cost-effectiveness?

Yves Daoust: Winter Farm’s concept fully integrates a strawberry vertical farm with an adjacent greenhouse: this shows the company’s deep understanding of the grower’s reality. As a result, our strawberry vertical farm is capable of efficiently heating the greenhouse in the wintertime. As heat recuperation is a major concern in controlled environment agriculture (CEA), this solution constitutes a major innovation that reduces the dependence of greenhouses on fossil fuels and lowers their carbon footprint. In addition, the integration allows for additional revenue generation as farmers can grow strawberries in the vertical farm, as well as peppers, lettuce, eggplant, or tomatoes etc. in the greenhouse using the same amount of energy. The Winter Farm solution exemplifies that it is possible for CEA to be both profitable and environmentally sustainable at the same time. To realize this dual objective, we use a multidisciplinary approach to intelligent automation –  integrating producers’ knowledge, agronomy, engineering,  and artificial intelligence (AI). Our system of environmental digital control, CERVEAU, aims to optimize yield, maximize energy efficiency, and improve revenues by fully characterizing the strawberry plant’s behavior in CEA by data,  physical modeling and machine learning.

One of Winter Farm’s goals is to help growers replace 10% of Canada’s strawberry imports.  Can you speak to some of the environmental and economic benefits that could come from achieving this goal, and how Winter Farm is working to make it a reality?

Alain Brisebois: Vertical farming is a promising new agricultural advance that holds potential for sustainable agriculture in the future.  At Winter Farm, in addition to providing efficient heating of the adjacent greenhouse, vertical farming eliminates the need for chemical pesticides well known for their harmful effects on both the environment and human health. Additionally, since Winter Farm allows local production, it minimizes transportation needs, further reducing the carbon footprint of fruit and vegetable production. Further benefits of our production practices include significantly lower water usage compared to traditional field production and the maximization of cultivable areas with the vertical stacking of the production. By utilizing heat management and recovery technology, we enable growers to produce an array of greenhouse produce in winter, thereby jointly promoting food autonomy and generating additional revenues for the growers. Our goal is to offer sustainable solutions for agriculture, not just for Quebec, but for the communities worldwide that face challenges related to food security.

Please share a little more about the Fraise d’hiver Strawberry and what makes it so special. 

Alain Brisebois: Fraise d’hiver literally translate to “winter berry”. Quebec is renowned for its tasty field strawberries. It brings us a lot of pride to be able to offer consumers that special Quebec taste during the winter months!  Thanks to an optimally controlled environment that ensures high quality, freshness and flavor, the Fraise d’hiver strawberry’s natural sweetness and vibrant red color are truly what make it stands out in the market.

Congratulations on the recent announcement of your $46 million raise! We read that this funding is coming from a variety of sources, including government organizations and private partners.  Can you talk about Winter Farm’s approach to securing funding and building strategic partnerships? 

Alain Brisebois: Thank you very much! In an emerging industry like ours, financing is crucial. This funding was especially important to us as it demonstrates that our concept can be successfully integrated into the agricultural industry and that CEA can be both sustainable and profitable. Winter Farm’s approach to securing funding and building strategic partnerships has always been guided by a strong commitment to innovation and a profit-driven mindset. Additionally, our company’s goals and vision are in line with government priorities, such as promoting food autonomy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and developing a more sustainable economy. When we designed the solution, it was paramount that it be eligible to the available agricultural financing and support programs. We have also demonstrated how the agricultural sector can embrace the digital era with cutting-edge technology that is ready to deploy, which has been instrumental in our success so far. Our Vaudreuil location will soon be producing nearly 1 million kilos of strawberries per year, which is a significant achievement for us and the vertical farming movement. We are now thrilled to continue partnering with growers and building new sites!

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for the CEA industry as a whole in years to come, and how is Winter Farm working to seize them?

Yves Daoust: Currently, a major focus in CEA is on energy accessibility and cost. Winter Farm’s success has been based on addressing this aspect from the outset. This has provided us with the momentum to continue building an increasingly sustainable and profitable CEA solution for fresh produce agriculture. Innovation is crucial for the future of the industry, and as such, Winter Farm is committed to furthering our AI-driven work in agronomy and engineering. Our goal is to ensure that our technologies are profitable and accessible to growers worldwide.

To learn more,visit the Winter Farm website. 


Evaporative Plastic Cooling Pad System Provides Efficient, Effective Cooling System For Horticulture Industry

The LUBING plastic cooling pad system is used in areas where highly efficient cooling is required, and provides the greenhouse owner a reliable system that is easy to clean, lasts longer than paper, and allows your ventilation system to work more efficiently.

This system is used in greenhouses where humidification and cooling is required, and can be used for many different cooling purposes but is particularly suitable for evaporative cooling in greenhouses.

Watch this video to learn more and see it in action. And, visit here to complete details.

The Center of Excellence for Indoor Agriculture Announces New Training and Development Consulting Service

The Center of Excellence for Indoor Agriculture, a U.S. based company that supports the growth of the vertical and indoor farming industry, announced a new human performance and training advisory service headed by Dr. Pam Loughner, a training and workforce development specialist.

The new service focuses on training personnel who work in indoor vertical farms, greenhouses, and urban farms. Services include assessment of training needs and priorities, development of organization training and education plans, development and implementation of training programs, review and selection of training materials, and design of online training. More info is available at

Eric W. Stein, Ph.D., founder and Executive Director of the Center of Excellence notes, “Having a highly trained and motivated workforce is the backbone of any business and is a critical success factor for indoor farms. Well trained associates have confidence, experience more meaning in their job roles, ensure safety, and enable operations excellence. The Center is proud to offer this service to the industry under the direction of Dr. Loughner.”

Dr. Loughner observes, “Employees who receive training are more productive, require less supervision, are more satisfied in their work, and can take on greater responsibilities. They feel valued and become a true asset to the organization. I am excited to join the Center to help indoor farmers prepare their employees for success, and in turn, help their farms become more successful.”

About The Center:
The Center of Excellence for Indoor Agriculture provides business expertise and analytical advisory services to investors, entrepreneurs, industry partners, and community organizers to de-risk the process of building sustainable and profitable indoor vertical farms and greenhouses. Services include strategy, due diligence, economic and technical feasibility analysis, market research and analysis, operations assessment, sustainable methods, training and development. As the first U.S.-based Center of Excellence dedicated to indoor farming, it promotes best practices, benchmarking, and research. The Center is located in the Philadelphia metro region.

About Pam Loughner, Ph.D.
Dr. Loughner has more than twenty years of experience in the field of workplace learning and performance. She has been responsible for the design and development of more than 500 custom learning solutions. Industries include pharmaceuticals, information technology, energy, manufacturing, construction, chemical, and financial services. Her expertise includes curriculum design, instructional design and development, and program evaluation. Dr. Loughner earned a B.S. in Education, and M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees in Instructional Systems from The Pennsylvania State University.

What Type of Food Safety Audit Do You Need For Your CEA Operation?

Determining the type of food safety certification your operation needs, or if you even need one, can be confusing and overwhelming when you are new to the process. Where do you start? Begin with your customers!

If you sell directly to consumers, such as fresh-from-the-farm or at farmer’s markets, then your customers likely know you and feel that they have a sense of how you conduct your operation. You have probably already established a trust with your customers and do not need a third-party food safety audit unless you feel that its marketing value justifies the additional expense.

But if you sell to a wholesaler or retailer or other food distributor, they probably have specific requirements about the type of food safety certification they require suppliers to maintain. They may just have the basic requirement of any third-party audit and certification. They may require a specific “scheme” such as GLOBALG.A.P., Primus, SQF, etc.. They may not dictate the certification scheme but require that you hold a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-benchmarked third-party certification. This means that the type of audit and certification you choose must be GFSI-benchmarked and meet the internationally agreed upon GFSI requirements. There are several options that meet this requirement. This chart lists the most popular types of third-party audits, as well as indicating which types have a GFSI version.

Ceres Certification International Chart 1

In order to be able to sell your products to the major grocery retailers you would need to meet their specific requirements, listed below:

Now that you know what type of certification you need, you are probably wondering where to start the process to get this certification. Do an online search for CBs offering the type of certification you have decided upon. CBs are Certifying Bodies- these companies are licensed by the audit scheme to perform the audits and make the certification decisions. Make a list of a few that offer what you need (they don’t necessarily need to be local since most CBs have auditors for each section of the country, but you do want to choose one headquartered in your main country of operation) and reach out to them. You will quickly get a sense of which CBs will be easy to work with and have experience with your type of operation.

The CB you select should be able to answer your questions to the point where you are comfortable signing a contract for their services, which will be required before the process can proceed. The application you submit to a CB may seem a bit overwhelming the first time, but the CB can help you with any questions. They are trying to get as clear of picture of your operation as they can to ensure that the food safety certification is appropriate for your operation.

Once the application and paperwork is behind you, the CB will send an auditor to your operation to observe your primary agricultural activities. Don’t worry– a good CB will work with you to make sure this happens at a time that is both reasonable and convenient for you. If the auditor finds any issues, called non-conformances, you will have a chance to take measures to address/correct them immediately following the audit. Once that is done, the CB will review your entire file and issue certification or not. (Of course, there are appeal processes in place should you disagree with their decision.)

Your certification will be valid for up to one year, so you will need to go through the process again before that certification expires, but by then you’ll feel like an expert and won’t even break a sweat!


About Karl Kolb, Ph.D.

Karl is the founder and President of the High Sierra Group companies, which services more than 10,000 customers with Ceres Certifications, International (ISO 17065 food safety certifying body), HSG/AME Certified Laboratories (17025 food testing laboratories), Ceres University (Accredited, degree granting), High Sierra Chemicals and Epicure Farms.


About Kellie Worrell

Kellie Worrell has an extensive background in Agriculture and Food Safety. She has written several accurate ag children’s books, including the Virginia Ag In the Classroom Book of the Year. She has served as Food Safety Officer for farms with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, and is currently the GLOBALG.A.P. Scheme Administrator at Ceres Certifications, International.


About Ceres Certifications, International

Ceres Certifications, International (CCI) has been serving the produce industry since 2021.  CCI offers a wide variety of 3rd party food safety certifications, including both GFSI-benchmarked standards and more basic audits. Connect with its experienced Scheme Managers to discuss the extensive CCI offerings, including GLOBALG.A.P. IFA, HPSS, PHA, localg.a.p., a variety of GG add-ons, PrimusGFS, PrimusStandard, SQF, and more.  Learn more.