A former executive of Canadian frozen french fries giant McCain is leading the opening of a futuristic $30 million vertical farm twenty kilometers from Montreal.
“We are talking about a first phase of more than $30 million,” he assured magazine Barry Murchie, who worked for 25 years at McCain before becoming CEO of Nova Scotia-based TruLeaf, which owns GoodLeaf Farms.
At the start of the project, the multinational McCain was still a major shareholder in TruLeaf, but he is neither the majority nor does he control the company, as its CEO identifies under discussion.
The first phase of the project will have an area of 85,000 square feet, and the second is expected to reach 145,000 square feet. We’re talking about creating 70 jobs once the two phases are complete,” Barry Murchie continues.
While more than 90% of its leafy greens are imported from California and Arizona, GoodLeaf Farms has chosen Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville to grow arugula, baby cabbage, spinach and baby greens.
GoodLeaf, who already owns a modern farm in Guelph, Ontario, wants to take the recipe here, because Quebecers love this type of produce. Green energy from hydropower is also an asset to society.
We are not talking about greenhouses, but about vertical farms. “We’re going to grow everything with LEDs, not natural light,” explains Barry Murchie, who focuses on agricultural technology.
Temperature, humidity, light, watering, nutrients… Vertical farm technology creates the perfect environment for the plant
“We use 95% less water than conventional farms. We do not use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
Best of all, leafy greens grow twice as fast in these highly AI-controlled environments
While the use of foreign workers causes its share of challenges each year, GoodLeaf Farms relies on robots for crops.
“You can go from seed to package without human touching the product,” says Barry Murchie.
In recent weeks, GoodLeaf has hired lobbyists to gain public support for its project.
“We haven’t met Francois Legault,” concludes the businessman, who set his sights on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River after working in Japan, Argentina, Singapore and the United States with McCain.
♦ Quebec wants to double the area of greenhouses within 5 years. According to GoodLeaf, vertical farms will play a role in Quebec’s food independence.