From the farm to the shelf for customers to buy, all in one location: The grocery store.
German company, Infarm, is launching their indoor modular farming units across Thrifty Foods on Vancouver Island this month.
Friday marked their first harvest.
“We have stores in Courtenay, Nanaimo, Parksville, Duncan and then all over Victoria as well,” said Laura Craig, the company’s Vancouver Island supervisor.
Seventeen Thrifty locations on the Island are now carrying their produce, but not all of the stores have the modular farming units.
The produce, including herbs and leafy greens, is grown in the grocery store and sold at displays next to the farming unit or a few feet away.
“The food is grown right in front of our customers, it doesn’t go through shipping across continents,” said Rachel Draper, business operations manager of Infarm in Metro Vancouver and on the Island. “It is as local as you can get.”
The units use a controlled environment of light, water and nutrients to grow the plants. They’re managed remotely, through a cloud system that tracks the plants’ progress.
“We have live data running through the system so, truly, at every moment, our plants are growing better, faster [and] higher quality,” said Draper.
Field growers come to the stores twice a week to plant the seedlings and harvest mature plants.
Growing the plants from start to finish is a process of about five weeks, depending on the variety.
First, the plants go through a two-week nursery period. Once they become seedlings, they get planted into the indoor farm where they are left to grow for three weeks. After that, the plants are ready for harvest.
“When the customers buy it, the roots are still intact. It’s actually alive,” said Draper. “The scent is incredible. The quality is there. It just tastes different than anything else on the market.”
Each bundle of parsley, mint, basil and cilantro at the Broadmead Thrifty Foods is priced at $2.49.
Infarm broke into the Canadian market in Vancouver earlier this year and the company plans on adding a few more locations on the Island, while expanding nationally by the end of the year.