Food

Downtown Vancouver rooftop garden first of its kind in North America

By Vancity Buzz Staff | 3:03 pm PST, Wed August 22, 2012 | Speak Up

Construction has begun on North America’s first VertiCrop urban farming system. Developed by Vancouver based  Alterrus‘ the vertical farm will be on the top level of the downtown parking lot located at 535 Richards Street. It is expected that the farm will operate year round. The farm will be 5,700 square feet, majority of which will be used to grow produce in trays stacked 12 high. The remaining square footage will be used for picking and packing.

From BIV:

Alterrus’ VertiCrop vertical-farming technology uses hydroponic technology to grow leafy green vegetables and herbs in a greenhouse, without pesticides or herbicides. Its produce will be transported directly to local Vancouver markets, significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

The produce, to be sold under the Local Garden brand, will be available in Vancouver in October.

Christopher Ng, CEO of Alterrus, said, “The VertiCrop technology represents a radical shift in sustainable food production.

“Current food-production methods are ineffective in dealing with the challenges of growing populations and decreasing amounts of farmland. VertiCrop’s high-density urban farming is an effective way to grow nutritious food using fewer land and water resources than traditional field-farming methods.”

The produce will be packaged on site and can be delivered to markets in the city the same day as they are harvested.

It’s expected that the rooftop farm will produce more than 150,000 pounds annually. It will use less than 10% of the water required for traditional field agriculture, while producing significantly higher yields compared with field-farmed produce. All of the excess water used will be recycled.

The VertiCrop™ Advantage
Designed to grow in any climate and with an exceptionally small footprint in urban environments, VertiCrop™ uses a fraction of the resources needed for field agriculture, while generating substantially higher yields.

  • Yields are approximately 20 times higher than the normal production volume of field crops
  • VertiCrop™ requires only 8% of the normal water consumption used to irrigate field crops
  • Works on non-arable lands and close to major markets or urban centres
  • Does not require the use of harmful herbicides or pesticides
  • Able to grow over 80 varieties of leafy green vegetables
  • Significant operating and capital cost savings over field agriculture
  • Significantly reduces transportation distance, thereby reducing cost, energy and carbon foot print
  • Provides higher quality produce with greater nutritional value and a longer shelf life
  • High levels of food safety due to the enclosed growing process
  • Scalable from small to very large food production operations

 

Speak Up

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/W76UOX2IDTRMMYTPASSJDLXLRM Bob

    Sounds to good to be true.

  • P.S.

    Awesome!

  • Cattusfelis

    not the first in north america…
     https://lufa.com/en/science_behind_lufa

  • Recez

    I still don’t see any advantage over locating the same greenhouse in rural Vancouver. Shortage of land? Are we in Japan? A lettuce harvested in Okanagan Valley can reach the Vancouver market the same day it is harvested. Let’s compare apples with apples:  the input and output of a greenhouse in Vancouver should be compared with the input and output of a greenhouse outside of Vancouver. Not with field agriculture. Come on…

  • http://twitter.com/WMorinW Marc Morin

     You are right on your comment but the most important piece is cost of transportation.  Having local produce without the cost of transportation will reduce the cost you put it on the table at. 

  • draw

    As an investor i need more website updates and press releases .The last entry on website is Nov 2012, why?, Investors deserve continual knowledge on how company is doing ! ( plans for expantion,new customers,failed crops etc.) Keep the buzz alive its a great idea !  

  • Recez

    I remember seeing the math about transportation costs, but I forgot the precise figures. The conclusion was that transportation costs (from California to Montreal) accounted for less than 10% of the selling price of the product. So I would assume that the per lettuce head cost of transportation would be very similar between lettuce grown in downtown Vancouver to lettuce grown in BC Lower Main Land.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolyn.cole.904 Carolyn Cole

    Lufa had to build a large structure. Besides the rooftop structure, isn’t Alterrus re-using existing structures?

  • StrawCat

    By putting what is basically a greenhouse on top of a flat roofed building, you reduce the amount of energy (heat) lost through the roof. Possibly the same amount of savings as if you put a living roof up top, or as much as 20%.
    There’s no savings if the vertical garden is put on a parking garage, as this one was, but would be if it were on a heated structure.

    Another aspect is that the greenhouse structure will eliminate the risk of water damage to the roof deck, a cost savings which can be significant as time passes and the structure ages.

    Less CO2, NOx, and other pollutants will be created by growing locally when compared to transporting food long distances.

    The 10% figure for the cost of transport might be current, but who knows what the prices will be in 10-20 years? Or how about the impact of carbon taxes when those are more widespread.

    Also, who knows that food production and distribution from outside our borders will be possible in the future? The political stability of Mexico is not a certainty, in my mind, and the current environmental viability of food production in places like Southern California is equally uncertain, for different reasons: The Central Valley in California has been flooded out in the past (circa 1860, according to National Geographic magazine. In that year 3 intense storm systems flooded the valley and surrounding districts, and the valley turned into an 8′ deep lake for 6-8 months. You can’t grow much under water.)

    Vertical gardens like this can be a premium feature of new construction, as well.

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