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Pitt Meadows company aims to revolutionize global agriculture industry

Opens doors to federal and provincial ministers
CubicFarms director of grow Sana Talebi, left, Innovation Commissioner Gerri Sinclair, the Honourable Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, and the Honourable Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services and CubicFarms, during a tour of the facility. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

A Pitt Meadows agritech company opened their facility to federal and provincial politicians Thursday afternoon to show off patented “V-shape” technology that will help farmers grow produce locally and sustainably.

CubicFarms on Hale Road invited Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation and Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services to tour the local facility, where they were able to see the automated, environment-controlled system at work.

The company’s goal is to revolutionize the agricultural industry and increase food security worldwide – starting in their own backyard.

High-value crops like green leafy vegetables and herbs are grown in large containers – about 12 metres long, two metres wide, and three metres high – called control rooms that can be placed outdoors as a single unit or inside an existing warehouse. In these chambers, growers are able to control everything about the environment including the temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, lighting and air flow. Plants are grown from seedlings in trays that sit side-by-side in horizontal rows on a “V-shape” undulating conveyor system that has been custom built into each container. Each time the trays come to a stop as they move from one end of the container to the other, they swing back and forth slightly to mimic outside conditions like wind.

The path the plants take through the control room also ensures that they are evenly bathed in light for optimal growth.

This system uses 95 per cent less water than field farming, explained Sandy Gerber, vice president of marketing.

“To put it into perspective if you were to grow one head of lettuce in this module, you’d use two bottles of water, in the field if you were to grow one head of lettuce, you’d use 40. So, it’s a significant amount less,” she said.

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Each module can produce more than: 1,900 heads of lettuce; 13,500 plugs of basil; and more than 240 pounds of microgreens every week.

The system is also up to 52 times more land efficient than field farming – the volume grown in a single CubicFarms module is the same amount that could be grown on a football field, the company boasts.

READ MORE: Pitt Meadows/ Langley grow tech business names new member to board of directors

And the CubicFarms System reduces waste by more than 80 per cent.

“We’re having a discussion in the province about what economic recovery looks like, 10, 15 years from now, and how do we position our province to not only address today’s challenges but tomorrow’s challenges,” said Kahlon.

READ MORE: Pitt Meadows technology to help grow leafy greens in Okanagan

CubicFarms, he said, is going to help address the issue of food security coming out of the pandemic.

As of March 2020, CubicFarms had only 49 employees, said chief technology officer Edoardo De Martin. A year later they had 94 and now they have more than 120 employees.

“That’s amazing jobs in our community,” noted Beare, adding that they are also highly skilled jobs like engineers and researchers.

“Great family supporting jobs in an industry that our community is already known for.”

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CubicFarms director of grow Sana Talebi, left, the Honourable Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, the Honourable Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services and CubicFarms CTO Edoardo De Martin. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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