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GoodLeaf embarks on national vertical farm network


March 2, 2021
By GoodLeaf Farms

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With the closure of a successful new funding round, GoodLeaf Farms is embarking on an aggressive growth and expansion plan to build a national network of vertical farms.

Backed by a sizeable investment from McCain Foods Limited — which has increased its total investment in GoodLeaf to more than $65 million ­— GoodLeaf will bring its controlled-environment agriculture technology to more Canadian markets over the coming year, providing consumers with year-round local food that is typically imported from the Southern United States or Mexico.

“From our start in Truro to our first commercial farm in Guelph, GoodLeaf has built a strong foundation for future growth,” says Barry Murchie, CEO of GoodLeaf. “We want to be a global leader in vertical farming. Our first step to accomplishing that is ensuring we have a strong footprint in Canada, giving Canadians access to top quality, nutrient-dense, sustainably grown and pesticide-free leafy greens 365 days a year.”

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GoodLeaf opened its first commercial vertical farm in Guelph, Ont., in the fall of 2019. By the end of 2021, GoodLeaf is planning two more indoor vertical farms — one to serve the grocery and food service networks in Eastern Canada, and one for Western Canada.

According to GoodLeaf, the exact locations will be announced shortly.

“It is our intention to build farms that support the Canadian grocery store network, food service industry and consumers,” says Murchie. “We want to change what people are eating by providing a fresh, healthy and local alternative that, until now, hasn’t been available in Canada. We are driving a new way to grow food, with disruptive technology that brings consumers leafy greens from their own backyard. This is a fundamental game changer.”

GoodLeaf’s vertical farm grows produce on hydroponic trays stacked in multiple horizontal levels. A proprietary system of specialized LED lights are engineered to emulate the spring sun, giving plants the light they crave to maximize photosynthesis. The indoor controlled environment is almost clinical, meaning there are no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides used. It is also immune to weather extremes, such as summer droughts or late spring frosts that can be lethal to crops.

Photo courtesy of GoodLeaf Farms.

Having a local source of year-round food is seen as being vital to Canada’s food security and sovereignty, concerns that were in the spotlight at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as shoppers were faced with rapidly dwindling supplies on grocery store shelves.

At its 45,000-square-foot Guelph farm, GoodLeaf harvests microgreens (Spicy Mustard Medley, Asian Blend, Micro Arugula, Micro Radish and Pea Shoots) and baby greens (Ontario Baby Kale, Ontario Baby Arugula and Ontario Spring Mix).