Tag: food chain

Shawn Woods GoodLeaf Farms

Canada’s Largest Commercial Vertical Farm | Q&A With GoodLeaf Farms’ Shawn Woods

GoodLeaf FarmsWhat started in 2011 as a dream to deliver fresh, nutritious produce to Canadians year-round has become reality. As Canada’s first and largest commercial vertical farming operation, GoodLeaf Farms began supplying microgreens and baby greens to retail locations and restaurants throughout Ontario in 2019.

Indoor Ag-Con is excited to kick off our 2022 Indoor Ag-Conversations webinar series on June 1, 2022 at 2:30 pm ET with the idea-packed case study session , “A Dream Becomes Reality” with GoodLeaf Farm Manager Shawn Woods and equipment partners from Signify & Montel.  Ahead of the webinar, we had the chance to catch up with Shawn to learn a little more about how GoodLeaf is delivering on its mission and what’s next for the growing company.

 What are you growing at your Guelph, Ontario operation, and, what differentiates GoodLeaf from other vertical farms in the marketplace

GoodLeaf FarmsWe are currently growing microgreens  — Spicy Mustard Medley, Pea Shoots, Asian Blend, Micro Arugula, Micro Radish, and Micro Broccoli —  and baby greens – Ontario Arugula, Ontario Spring Mix and Ontario Baby Spinach.

In terms of what sets us apart, we are Canada’s largest commercial vertical farm, and the only one with scale to supply the major grocery chains with safe, fresh, and healthy greens. We lead the industry in Food Safety with SQF Level 2 Certification and a positive release program, which  means that we test every harvest for pathogens and only release them once they have been cleared by our internal lab

In addition, our proprietary technology enables us to grow nutrient-dense local food that is environmentally conscious 365 days a year.

From Day One, our focus has been on growing healthy, tasty food that people want to eat. We use our technology to grow food, while others use technology to collect data.

 

Sustainability is a key part of your mission. Can you share some of GoodLeaf’s sustainable practices and initiatives?

GoodLeaf Farms Sustainable PracticesOur sustainable practices include:

  • Water use in vertical farming is 95 per cent less than traditional farming methods.
  • More food can be grown per acre, maximizing use of space, and limiting land use.
  • Because our farm is indoors in an environment that is almost entirely controlled, there are no pests, bugs, or birds — and thus no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides are used.
  • The water used is cleaned and recirculated, so there are no run-off issues.
  • Peat / Soil is recycled and re-used in landscaping.
  • Favorable carbon footprint compared to traditional farming.
  • By providing a local food source, we are removing thousands of food miles annually; Leafy greens coming from the southwestern United States are trucked across the continent, burning fossil fuels the whole way.

 

Last year, GoodLeaf announced an aggressive growth and expansion plan to build a national network of vertical farms.   Can you share updates, including progress on the Calgary project?

GoodLeaf FarmsConstruction on our Calgary farm is well under way. We are on schedule to have the 95,000-square-foot farm open and providing fresh leafy greens to grocery stores across Western Canada in first half of next year.

We are continuing to move forward with our plans for a similar facility in the Montreal area but are not able to provide additional information at this time.   

 

GoodLeaf is working on a number of R&D projects with universities to advance the science & engineering of vertical farming.  Can you tell us about any of the projects currently underway?

We have an MoU with the University of Guelph to build stronger links between theoretical research, the development of technology and processes and practical application in the field.

Some of the best and most innovative agricultural research in Canada happens at the University of Guelph. Building on the vertical farm technology we have already developed and are using; it will be exciting to see where this partnership can take us.

Some of the projects currently under way with the University of Guelph include research into:

  • Enhancing yields, plant science and new product development.
  • Substrates, growing compounds, and microbiology.
  • Human resources and training future experts in the field of vertical farming.

 

What’s next for GoodLeaf ?

GoodLeaf FarmsWe are constantly innovating and experimenting with new processes and products to bring the best possible leafy greens to Canadian consumers.

Efforts continue to build partnerships with grocery retailers across Canada, and we are aggressively pursuing growth into the restaurant and hospitality sector. Chefs can do wondrous things with our leafy greens, and we are excited to see where this journey will take us.

While Canada is our priority today, we can’t wait to bring our greens to consumers across the globe

What’s more, we are excited about other opportunities for vertical farming to add value — expanding the portfolio beyond leafy greens or growing specialty crops for healthcare

 

To learn more about GoodLeaf Farms, visit the website at www.goodleaffarms.com  and check out this video that takes you through a quick tour of GoodLeaf’s seeding and grow rooms, harvesting and packaging:

 

New Sustainability Partnership Launched Between Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc.

ZipGrow and Sodexo Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor NewsOn March 11, 2021  two international industry leaders, Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc., launched a first of its kind partnership to develop more sustainable local food chains throughout North America.

Sodexo, world leader in Quality of Life Services, has joined forces with ZipGrow Inc., the manufacturer of the world’s most installed vertical hydroponic equipment. Together they wll develop a unique program to introduce sustainable growing systems to facilities throughout Canada and the United States of America.

Introducing Innovative  Technology

One of Sodexo’s primary goals is to ensure all our operations are industry leading from a sustainability perspective. “This new partnership with ZipGrow Inc. not only enables us to reduce our carbon emissions of distance traveled for food source, onsite food waste, and packaging requirements, but also to introduce innovative technology to our facilities and team members”, said Normand St-Gelais, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sodexo Canada.

ZipGrow Systems To Be Installed At Sodexo Locations

ZipGrow™ technology is a patented system that utilizes both hydroponic growing systems and vertical planes to maximize production volume within a small footprint. Primarily growing leafy greens such as lettuce and kale, along with herbs and small fruiting crops such as strawberries, ZipGrow systems will be installed in Sodexo locations including educational institutions, conference facilities, and corporate food service centres.

“Having been installed throughout the world over the past decade, our system enables growers, both big and small, to access fresh produce no matter where they are located”, explains Eric Lang, President of ZipGrow Inc. “We are excited to move ahead with this new partnership with Sodexo. Together we will be able to introduce sustainable food to Sodexo locations throughout North America.”

“As a Chef, we are always looking for ways to introduce the freshest possible produce to our kitchens”, said Chef Davide Del Brocco, Sustainability Manager, Sodexo Canada. “By having a grow system on site, we can now not only customize our produce to meet our upcoming needs, but we can also now harvest fresh greens and use them that same day.”Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor ZipGrow

“Having like-minded partners like ZipGrow who understand what is important to us and who are aligned with our values and goals is crucial in working together for a Better Tomorrow.” said Andrea Cantin, Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator, Sodexo Canada. With Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc. both having company values strongly embedded in sustainability, this new partnership will see this innovative agriculture technology being introduced to multiple Sodexo facilities in Canada and the US.

About Sodexo

Sodexo delivers a wide range of customized solutions, designed to optimize work and living environments. The company has been providing food and facilities management services in Canada for over 40 years, with a focus on enhancing safety, work process and well-being. A market leader in Canada, Sodexo has been recognized as a top employer for the past seven consecutive years. Sodexo is proud to have created the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, an independent charitable organization that has raised over $3 million to fight hunger and donated more than one million meals to at-risk youth across Canada since 2007. It is included in the CAC 40, FTSE 4 Good and DJSI indices.

Key figures (as November 2020)
420,000 employees
1st in its sector in both the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and the 2020 SAM sustainability yearbook
64 countries
100 million consumers served daily

About ZipGrow Inc.

ZipGrow Inc. is an international leader in indoor, vertical farming technology. Our flagship product, the ZipGrow™ Tower, is a core component of many of the world’s most innovative farms; from indoor hydroponic warehouses to vertical aquaponic greenhouses and and high-density container farms. For more information contact hello@zipgrow.com or at 1-855-ZIPGROW.