Changes to B.C. law to allow high-tech forms of farming in the Agricultural Land Reserve are being lauded by a Pitt Meadows-based agriculture startup.
The new regulation, released as part of the StrongerBC Economic Plan announced on Feb. 17, allows vertical farming in the ALR for the first time.
CubicFarms, based in Pitt Meadows, and spun out of a Langley greenhouse grower, will help improve independent local food production in the face of extreme weather, climate change, and supply chain disruption.
Vertical farming is the growing of crops in vertically stacked layers, using aeroponic or hydroponic technology, and often powerful artificial lights.
The idea is to grow crops quickly and efficiently, under highly controlled conditions that eliminate or reduce the need for pesticides, cut water use, and drastically reduce the amount of land needed for farming.
CubicFarms makes the hydroponic equipment for vertical farms, and many of their customers are based on ALR land, said Tim Fernback, Cubic’s chief financial officer.
“It’s kind of a monumental shift in the way the province is looking at food security,” Fernback said.
He said that when it comes to commercial volumes of leafy greens and herbs, food produced with Cubic’s vertical farming technology is already competitive with similar food shipped from places like California.
“A key pillar of our StrongerBC Economic Plan is centred around fostering innovation to grow the economy, while tackling climate change,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “By opening up new opportunities for agritech companies to operate in B.C., we are positioning our province to be a world leader in finding innovative solutions to food security problems.”
The government hopes the change will allow British Columbians to enjoy more locally produced food and give farmers new opportunities to grow their businesses.
“As the agriculture capital of B.C., we know in the city of Abbotsford just how important this industry and agritech is to our economy, community and food security in the province,” said Abbotsford’s Mayor Henry Braun. “Changes to the ALR regulation brings much-needed certainty and predictability for organizations to invest in and grow agritech in our community.”
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