Growing local, pesticide-free greens year-round, GoodLeaf Farms employs numerous sustainable farming practices, including cleaning and reusing about 95 per cent of their water, as well as recycling the plant growing medium for second-life use in landscaping.
"Our mission at GoodLeaf is to have a positive effect on the environment and human health," says Juanita Moore, executive director of operations. "Canadians are demanding better, safer, healthier food and are getting behind their local farmers. We know GoodLeaf's greens represent a bright light in a mostly imported produce aisle because Ontarians want fresh, tasty, local greens grown responsibly."
With food safety and security concerns at the forefront, effects of climate change stressing supply chains, and increasingly popular plant-based diets further promoted through Canada's Food Guide, vertical farming brings Canadians a local source of safe and reliable leafy greens.
Vertical farming is a method where growing levels are stacked in layers. Temperature and humidity conditions are controlled, and light provided by high-efficiency LEDs. Irrigation systems deliver water and nutrients as needed for optimal growth. Continuous grow cycles combined with a controlled environment allow for systematic testing and learning for rapid improvement in nutrient density, flavour, and other key attributes.
- Lighting the way to a local food economy
- LED lighting for greenhouse propagation
- Finetuning LEDs for a better light
According to Jeff Huber, GoodLeaf's master grower and visiting researcher at the University of Guelph, "Unlike organic farming, which allows organic and some synthetic pesticides, our design considerations and our attention to strict bio-security protocols allow for a pest-free environment, eliminating the need for pesticides. We feed our plants the precise nutrients and optimal light to grow the most nutritious and delicious greens. Our QA department's robust Positive Release Program tests samples of our greens ensuring they're safe to eat prior to release to our customers. In fact, with GoodLeaf's automated process, the first person to touch a leaf is the consumer upon opening the package. We're truly passionate about safety, quality, and giving Ontario families local greens they can enjoy year-round."
First was founded in 2011 in Halifax, NS, GoodLeaf uses innovative technologies leveraging multi-level vertical farming to create a controlled and efficient indoor farm, which grows fresh produce anywhere in the world, 365 days a year. The system combines innovations in LED lighting with leading-edge hydroponic techniques to produce sustainable, safe, pesticide-free, nutrient-dense leafy greens. A subsidiary of vertical farming technology manufacturer TruLeaf, GoodLeaf Farms has ongoing R&D programs in collaboration with the University of Guelph, Dalhousie University, and Acadia University.