Rooftop farms are an amazing way to grow and distribute fresh, local, responsible veg. We built the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse on an industrial building in Montreal’s Ahuntsic neighbourhood, to prove that high-yield and year-round farming is an innovative, more sustainable, and commercially viable way to feed cities. Since then, we’ve built new, bigger, and more efficient greenhouses to grow more vegetables and change the way people eat.
Our five tenets of responsible ag.Our goal is to meet our community's needs without compromising those of future generations. Here are our five guiding principles that bring us one step closer to our mission of building a better food system.
Since the very beginning, we've taken on the challenge of reducing the amount of waste we create. Our greenhouse veg is harvested only once it's ripe and ordered, for maximum freshness and minimum waste.
When our plants reach the end of their productivity, we remove them, and plant a new crop of seedlings for the cycle to start over. This is all part of running a greenhouse, and we monitor our waste through smart sourcing and diligent sorting. When we reset our crops, we compost just about everything from substrate to leaf. To make this possible, we've converted all of our growing supplies like clips and twine to compostable materials - a huge investment and a big win for sustainable waste management.
Good water is an increasingly valuable resource, one we don't want to waste. Not only do we want to preserve the city's water supply, but also limit the agricultural runoff that is an enormous cause of pollution. By operating in a closed loop system we allow for very little of our solutions to mix into the water ways and minimize environmental impacts.
By capturing rainwater to complement our water needs, and recirculating all of our irrigation water and nutrients in our filtered closed-loop hydroponic growing system, we save more than half of the water when compared to a greenhouse not practicing recirculation.
Bugs: a tale as old as time, if you grow, they'll come on by! All farmers (yes, even urban ones) have to cope with pests like insects and mites. But using synthetic pesticides isn't the answer.
The solution? Creating a balance of good bugs versus bad bugs that build an ecosystem that take care of harmful pests. Parasitic wasps, for instance, are introduced into the greenhouse to help control aphids and are just one of our many secret friends. When all else fails, our greenhouse team takes over. Plant by plant, we search for harmful insects - flagging and removing affected veg.
Using no new land
It's no secret that while the population is rapidly increasing, farmland is quickly disappearing. By converting unused rooftops into agricultural spaces, we're able to feed people where they live while making urban development more sustainable and (literally) greener
Urban rooftop greenhouses gives residents access to locally grown produce that would otherwise have been imported from thousands of miles away. From the world's first commercial rooftop greenhouse to the world's largest, we carry over our learnings from the previous ones by simplifying, improving, and becoming more efficient along the way.
We continually strive to optimize our energy consumption. Our greenhouses use about half the heating equivalent to ground-level greenhouses and we're able to make use of heat that rises from the building below to save on energy
Our rooftop farms also serve as a protective buffer from the outside environment to reduce the building's heating needs. We use energy curtains, which are automatically deployed on cold nights, to help insulate the greenhouse and reduce heat loss and really only heat on cold winter nights, using high-efficiency natural gas heaters.