Travis Hopcott is hopeful for sustainable practices is hoping to bring more awareness to the next generations. The fourth generation of Hopcott Farms pictured here. (Special to The News)

Travis Hopcott is hopeful for sustainable practices is hoping to bring more awareness to the next generations. The fourth generation of Hopcott Farms pictured here. (Special to The News)

Sustainability and innovation: The future of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows agriculture

The agricultural scene in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows has been undergoing a shift in the past few months and is expected to see growth, keeping in mind innovation and environmental sustainability.

With more people becoming aware and wary of climate change, farmers are stepping up to the challenge of making farming practices more sustainable, especially in the two communities.

Travis Hopcott of the Hopcott Farms believes that now, the trends are leaning more towards sustainability and reducing carbon footprint.

“I know agriculture counts for around nine to 10 per cent of CO2 emissions, and while it is not the biggest industry in these emissions, it is always good to build towards better practices,” he said, “We are exploring different ways to be more efficient ourselves, producing our own bio-diesels; and Cranberries itself are an environmentally sustainable crop.”

Travis feels that now, more than ever, people want to know what they eat, where it comes from and what’s the purpose behind those choices.

“One way for people to make a choice is with a purpose of being hyper-local, supporting local farmers, buying locally, and that will bring about the biggest change,” said Travis.

READ MORE: Cranberry harvest time is here for Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

Two companies have taken sustainable farming practices a step further. One of those is UP Vertical Farms in Pitt Meadows.

Bahram Rashti, CEO and co-founder of UP Vertical Farms, believes that the startup founded by him and his brother, will make farming processes more efficient and sustainable by implementing modern forms of farming.

“I believe the future of farming in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge will be fueled by innovation. With innovation, growing methods will become more efficient and sustainable, leading to more vegetable production occurring indoors in controlled environments,” he said.

UP Vertical Farms is working towards creating touch-less, high density indoor vertical farms for growing post-organic super greens. In Spring 2022, the team will roll out their first phase of operations and is expected to produce 0.9 million kilograms and 6.3 million bags of salad greens per year.

ALSO READ: Brothers bring UP Vertical Farms to Pitt Meadows

“This will ultimately lead to less crop loss, less freshwater usage, and more importantly less agricultural land usage with innovative growing methods such as vertical farming. As a result, the reclaimed or unneeded agricultural land can be used for reforestation, which in turn would soak up carbon emissions and help mitigate climate change and global warming,” said Rashti.

Dave Dinesen, CEO of CubicFarms, a company providing vertical farming technology, agrees with Rashti about the need to move farming indoors.

“We need to maximize cubic square footage for growing and make better use of our natural resources by growing more with less. Vertical farming has gained momentum because our population is growing and we’re running out of resources to produce the food and animal feed we need,” he said.

This year, the two communities experienced heatwaves where farmers had to watch fresh produce get baked in the fields. Wildfire season, drought, contamination from e.coli, pests, and the impacts of climate change are making it more difficult to grow outdoors, said Dinesen.

“Families want affordable produce that tastes great, without pesticides or herbicides. We must grow what we eat where we live. Innovative new technologies are the solution needed for the agricultural community,” he said.

ALSO READ: Pitt Meadows company aims to revolutionize global agriculture industry

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