Canadian Minister President Trudeau visits Hortiplans first rooftop MGS
Marc Coene, Automating manager at Hortiplan explains
The Canadian vegetable and fruit producer Lufa Farms is building ‘greenhouses in the city’, more specifically on the roof of large, industrial buildings. In their previous greenhouses they grow mainly fruiting vegetables. In this greenhouse they have chosen to grow lettuce, herbs and other crops with Hortiplan’s mobile gully system.
After a detailed preparation of the project at Hortiplan Belgium and once the necessary materials had been sent in containers, a number of Hortiplan supervisors constructed the system in Montreal together with local workers at the end of 2016. This system was completely finished in spring 2017.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently opened the company. Two of the founders of Lufa Farms, Mohamed Hage and Lauren Rathmell, gave a guided tour of the new production facilities. Trudeau visited the new greenhousecomplex on the roof and harvested some vegetables for himself and his family.
The new greenhouse is 6,300 m2 and located on the roof of an industrial warehouse. "It’s a milestone. The greenhouse is efficient and produces more than 40 types of vegetables and herbs. All grown in the city, the whole year through", say the entrepreneurs.
"The new greenhouse on the roof is an automation miracle", according to the visitors. This ‘automation miracle’, the mobile gully system (MGS), was purchased from and installed by Hortiplan. (The greenhouse construction and its installation were supported by financial partners from Quebec: the ‘Fonds de solidarité FTQ’ and ‘La Financière agricole du Québec’.)
From one roof greenhouse to the example of urban farming
Lufa Farms constructed the first commercial greenhouse in 2011. In this greenhouse 8 employees produce 25 different kinds of vegetables. They deliver every week to a few hundred customers in Montreal. The aim is to combine production with sustainable irrigation and energy technology together with purely biological crop protection. The second greenhouse on the roof of Lufa Farms was put into production in 2013. At the same time the company set up an onlineshop (https://montreal.lufa.com/en) , where consumers can select fresh vegetables and fruit. Together with other products, such as meat, dairy and bread, they put together a fresh food package. In this way local producers have a profitable sales market and thecity benefits from the optimum use of land, water and energy consumption.
An alternative food supply
The Lufa Farm concept has now shown steady growth and innovation for six years. The team currently consists of 140 employees; in total they produce 70 different crops. Every week they deliver more than 10,000 food packages. The number of different crops grown on Hortiplan’s MGS is increasing. At Lufa other crops are being produced in addition to lettuce and herbs.
The company was formed based on a passion for ‘producing on the roof’. The founders did not start off as producers; they had never even grown a tomato. As technological problem solvers they did what was logical to them. They are now convinced that urban production is not just the modernisation of greenhousetechnology. Direct fast deliveries and cooperation with local sustainable producers and growers are also very important factors. All the parties work together to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
The future of Lufa Farms
Lufa Farms was set up in 2009 by Mohamed Hage, Lauren Rathmell, Kurt Lynn and Yahya Badra. The company’s aim is to continue to expand urban projects, in the centre of Quebec and Montrealand also at a number of new locations, such as New England (USA). Of course, Hortiplan continues to make innovative contributions to the further development and expansion of Lufa Farms.
Hortiplan installation worldwide
With this Mobile Gully System system in Canada, Hortiplan can put another dot on the overview of its global customer portfolio. The map shows where Hortiplan, throughout the world, has already installed systems or is planning to install them this year (Chile, South Korea, California,....).
The installations in Belgium are shown on the map by one large dot. Many thanks to the commitment of all our colleagues! Hortiplan currently has quite a good filled order book. In addition to domestic and foreign MGS installations, we have a number of orders for traditional, generally domestic substrate systems, mainly for tomatoes and strawberries.