Company's FreshHub System To Supply Fresh Leafy Greens Veggies

“A Simple FreshHub Only Occupying One Acre Of Land Will Grow The Equivalent Of 100 Acres Of Field Farming,”

A vertical farm company with locations in Pitt Meadows and Langley has formally announced a new FreshHub system – the first of which will be installed in the Lower Mainland – with the help of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. CubicFarm’s FreshHub is a high-density system that will grow green, leafy produce using minimal space and water to supply in a controlled environment and supply the produce to local retail and food service industries. The company made the announcement Thursday to about 100 people invited to Sky Hangar in Pitt Meadows for the event. Chief Technology Officer, Edoardo De Martin, explained in a pre-recorded presentation that there will be up to 96 growing modules inside each FreshHub grow room that will be stacked to optimize space.

“A simple FreshHub only occupying one acre of land will grow the equivalent of 100 acres of field farming,” he noted, adding that work flow components will be automated and data will be collected to optimize the environment of the FreshHub in order to grow “consistent, high quality produce”.Vertical farming is an indoor farming method that uses a hydroponic growing system where hundreds of trays containing crops like lettuces and leafy greens, move under LED lights along a zigzag path from the back to the front of a module. Each plant gets the exact amount of light, water, and air flow to maximize their growth. The system, touts the company, uses 95 per cent less water, no pesticides or herbicides, and provides year-round predictable and consistent growing. “The CubicFarm’s FreshHub becomes a true contender to break our reliance in long-chain food supply. It provides additional advantages like growing more nutritious produce in any climate without the challenges of drought or climate change,” he said. The exact location of the first FreshHub has not been announced formally yet, said company CEO Dave Dinesen.

“But it will be within the Lower Mainland area and there will be 96 machines and that will be coming online in 2022,” he said. And, once installed, the company said, it will be the largest commercial scale CubicFarm System in the world. The installation is expected to begin once the farmer partner private investor group has confirmed site readiness. The company said it is planning to open up multiple FreshHub growing rooms that will be located close to cities and communities, that will provide fresh produce to stores and consumers. Each FreshHub would service consumers within 16 kilometres of where it is grown, noted Dinesen. “That really is the goal of the technology is to lower food miles as much as possible,” he said. And CubicFarm’s growing systems will not only help to feed humans in the future, but will also help to feed livestock.

The HydroGreen Grow System can grow fresh, nutritious feed for livestock in six days and can produce 365 harvests per year, also using 95 per cent less water than traditional growing methods. So far there are four HydroGreen systems installed at the EcoDairy Farm Discovery Centre in Abbotsford, said CubicFarm Systems CEO Dave Dinesen. The farm raises both beef and dairy cows and have other livestock as well. And the whole the goal of that farm is to showcase technology for farms of the future, explained Dinesen. “So, increase animal health yet lower the impact on the environment, yet get even better quality products,” he said. “The HydroGreen is a key part of that technology,” he noted, adding that he expects more HydroGreen systems will eventually be installed at farms around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

CubicFarm Systems Corp. is headquartered in Langley and its research centre is located in Pitt Meadows. Growing systems are also located on a farm in Armstrong, B.C. and soon one will be located on another farm in Abbotsford, he said, in addition to two large scale operations in Alberta. Dinesen interviewed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield for the presentation, an interview that came about because the company’s board chairman Jeff Booth and Hadfield are friends and a member of their marketing team had worked with Hadfield in the past. Hadfield expressed his excitement with the CubicFarm growing systems and told Dinesen about the hours he spent on a tractor as a child on his family’s farm where they grew wheat, rye, and corn.

Years later, when he was in space, Hadfield said he noticed two main things – how much of the world is in agriculture, and how far apart so many of the cities are. “If we can locally produce, if we can have that local chain of agriculture technology, then we become somewhat climate independent,” enthused Hadfield, adding the necessity for huge land use also decreases along with the greenhouse gases that are generated just from transporting produce. “It’s the technology the world absolutely needs,” Hadfield said. What Dinesen found most interesting about Hadfield’s perspective upon viewing the earth from space was when he described how big farms are and how far away people are from those farms – the very problem his company is trying to fix.

This news was originally published at Maple Ridge News