It's harvest time at a few small urban farms in Metro Vancouver, but these aren't the fields or green spaces you might be imagining.
The crops of herbs and veggies in question are actually part of a new modular or vertical farming platform called Infarm that is installed in Safeway stores in Burnaby and Thrifty Foods locations in Vancouver and neighbouring communities. These in-store growing units are the source of fresh foods that are available for purchase, right there where they're grown.
Parent company Sobeys Inc. brought the Infarm system to stores this spring, and are now expanding the program.
"Each vertical farming unit is a standalone ecosystem, enabled by machine learning and AI technology that creates an optimal environment required for produce to grow and flourish," explains a media release from the grocer's head office.
The Infarm vertical systems use 95 per cent less water, 90 per cent less transportation and 75 per cent less fertilizer than industrial agriculture.
There are different items being grown at each grocery store location in Metro Vancouver, but crops include lettuce, baby kale and herbs such as basil, cilantro, mint and parsley. The products retail for $2.49.
The Berlin-based business has their state-of-the-art growing units in place around the world, including in Seattle, London, and Copenhagen.
In Canada, Sobeys says they will soon expand with Infarm to install the vertical farms in stores in Victoria and Toronto.
Here is where you can find the modular farms operating in Metro Vancouver stores operated by Sobeys, along with harvest dates.
- Safeway Kensington Square- available now
- Safeway Davie – available now
- Safeway Burnaby Heights- available now
- Thrifty Foods Port Moody- available now
- Thrifty Foods Edgemont Market- available now
- Safeway Arbutus – available now
- Thrifty Foods Morgan Crossing-June 29, 2020
- Safeway New Westminster Station- June 29, 2020
- Safeway McBride- June 29, 2020
- Safeway Shaughnessy Station- June 30, 2020
- Safeway Robson- July 6, 2020
- Safeway Broadway and Commercial- July 13, 2020
- Safeway Seafair- July 13, 2020
- Safeway Caulfield Village- July 14, 2020
- Safeway Austin Heights- July 17, 2020
- Safeway King Edward Mall- July 20, 2020
- Safeway Burquitlam- July 21, 2020
- Thrifty Foods Tsawwassen- July 23, 2020