Parkade produce from rooftop gardens now available in stores
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said leasing an underused parkade for the greenhouse to create jobs and to grow local food was a "win-win." (MICHAEL MUI/ 24 HOURS)
Stacks of leafy greens and herbs being grown commercially in “vertical” farms on top of a Vancouver parking lot are now sold in stores and restaurants around the city, it was announced Tuesday.
Vancouver-based company Alterrus Systems Inc. claims to use less than 10% of the water and fertilizer of an equivalent outdoor field in its 4,000 square foot growing space, located at the top floor of a downtown EasyPark garage at 535 Richards St.
The products are now available at Spud.ca, an online grocery delivery company, and at Urban Fare locations under the Local Garden label. Several restaurants have also hopped on board.
“In this case, we had an underused parkade far below capacity. Leasing this for the greenhouse to create jobs and to grow local food … is a win-win,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We are seeing urban farming in Vancouver like never before,”
Company strategic advisor Donovan Woollard said the $2 million enterprise could produce up to 68,000 kilograms of greens annually.
He said the focus is to compete with California imports to drive British Columbians to buy more local food, but at least one Vancouver chef — who already buys local — has made the switch because of the cheaper price and ability to make custom orders.
Fable Restaurant’s Trevor Bird used to buy produce from farmers on Barnston Island, a small community between Vancouver and Surrey. Buying from Alterrus, he cut his previous $50-per-kilogram costs by half.
“It brings it even closer and has less costs,” the former Top Chef Canada contestant said.
“It’s so cool. What else could you ask for? If I want it at this age, this high, this much, they’re willing to do whatever is required.”