Category Archives: vegetables

Finding the right light to grow better plants – on Earth and in space

By Lilian Schaer

Guelph – It’s an unremarkable building from the outside, tucked away on a side street on the University of Guelph campus. What’s inside, though, is most remarkable – and may well be lighting the way for future human life in space, as well as better life here on earth.

Not only are researchers in the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility working on how to best grow food away from Earth, they’re also experimenting with using light to improve the production of medical marijuana and cancer-fighting tobacco plants, helping nurseries reduce water and fertilizer use on their trees and shrubs, and finding low cost solutions to growing more compact bedding plants.

PhD candidate Dave Hawley is using basil and strawberry plants in experiments designed to find the best LED light combination for use in small, low atmosphere growth chambers that will not only simulate but actually improve upon real sunlight – and resulting in better flavour and ultimately helping feed people on long space journeys. Continue reading

Just label it

Paper labels and automation tech makes Essex County company an international success

By Matt McIntosh

Windsor – Product traceability is critical for food processors, and an Essex County company specializing in agricultural automation has been helping them sustainably improve for 27 years.

“Automation was almost non-existent in agriculture 30 years ago, but there was obviously a need for it,” says Joe Sleiman, founder and president of Ag-Tronic Control Systems, an automation technology company based near Windsor.

“We started by looking at ways to help local produce growers improve efficiency, and do so in a more sustainable way. Now we have clients throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and we’re in the process of expanding to South America, Europe and Australia,” he says.

Together with his wife Samia, Sleiman started Ag-Tronic Control Systems in 1991 to market and improve his own automation equipment. At the time, that included a height control system for tomato harvesters, tractor guidance equipment, and a plant watering system. Continue reading

The Growcer brings year-round food production to hard-to-feed places

By Lisa McLean

Ottawa – If you’ve visited or lived in a remote community in Canada, chances are you weren’t there for the salad.

In many regions that are far from traditional food production systems, fresh vegetables are inconsistent and costly due to the distance and effort required to get them there.

Now, an Ottawa-based company with a focus on food access is helping remote communities grow fresh vegetables 365 days a year, thanks to Containerized Growing Systems.

Corey Ellis, chief executive officer and co-founder of The Growcer, says the company offers plug-and-play hydroponic systems that allow local entrepreneurs to grow vegetables commercially, even when outside temperatures are -50 degrees Celsius.

“We knew that any food production system we developed for the arctic and remote regions would need to be easily dropped in communities that lack road access, and it would have to be ready to use, without relying on skilled tradespeople,” says Ellis. Continue reading

Guelph vertical farm brings leafy green production to industrial property

The Great Indoors

By Matt McIntosh

Guelph – Are skyrocketing land prices preventing you from starting your own farm business? Don’t fret, because crops can be grown in old industrial buildings too – legal crops at that.

Vertical farming – a comparatively new agricultural system – offers some promise for producing crops in novel ways and novel places.

For Oliver Lauzon, a Guelph entrepreneur and past renewable energy professional, vertical farming also offers a chance to continue an environmentally-focused career.

Lauzon and his father, Paul, opened Molly’s Vertical Farming in June 2017. The business, which is named after Lauzon’s Great Dane and based out of a disused 4,000 square foot auto body shop, will produce hydroponically grown Boston and Romaine lettuce for both wholesale and direct local markets. Continue reading

Local food company feeds raw food niche with fibre-rich wrap

By Jane Robinson

St Catharines – Joanne Van Liefland never pegged herself an entrepreneur. But that was before she brought some of her homemade, vegetable-based wraps to a meeting that caught the taste buds of a store owner.

That was 2012. Van Liefland had a full-time job in education, and was making the dehydrated, raw wraps for herself, family and friends to satisfy her craving for bread-like products after switching to a raw food diet.

The chance tasting led to her first order. Six months later, she launched Wrap It Up Raw.

Her food business manufactures organic, vegan wraps with no gluten, wheat or dairy in St. Catharines, Ontario, and sells them in 150 independent food stores in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC.

“It’s been quite a surprise at how easily the business has grown,” says Van Liefland, a registered holistic nutritionist. “Customers have come to me, I didn’t even go looking.” Continue reading