Guelph, Ont.- and Bible Hill, NS-based vertical farming startup GoodLeaf Farms has inked a deal with Alberta for the provincial government to pay $2.73 million towards a 74,000-square-foot facility in Calgary.
GoodLeaf, a subsidiary of TruLeaf, uses high-tech vertical farming facilities to grow microgreens, such as micro radishes and baby spinach. Its process relies on LED lights designed to mimic sunlight. TruLeaf was founded by former CEO Gregg Curwin, with frozen food giant McCain Foods now its largest shareholder.
Slated to be built in an industrial neighbourhood on 108 Avenue Southeast, the Calgary farm will be GoodLeaf’s second commercial-scale facility, after one in Guelph. It also has a smaller project in Truro, NS. The government money will come from Alberta's Investment and Growth Fund -- the program’s first-ever handout. In a press release, GoodLeaf said the new farm will create 70 jobs.
“Setting up in Calgary is a huge step forward for GoodLeaf to establish a truly national footprint as Canada’s largest commercial indoor vertical farm,” Barry Murchie, current CEO of GoodLeaf, said in the press release.
“With Canada’s limited growing season, climate-controlled indoor farms offer Canadians access to fresh, locally grown leafy greens year-round. And Calgary is the perfect location for our first Western Canada location as it’s a main corridor and central access point.”
GoodLeaf has previously said its goal is to become the largest vertical farm operator in North America. The company also has plans to open a facility similar to the Calgary project in Quebec next year, with construction already under way.
In February, McCain invested an additional $30 million in GoodLeaf, building on shares it purchased several years previously for a total $65 million stake.
GoodLeaf added in the press release that, because its farm environments employ almost clinical hygiene standards, they require no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. They also use 95 percent less water than a traditional outdoor farm.
Curwin, meanwhile, is now the CEO of Halifax’s Novagevity, which sells plant-based meal replacement drinks.