Vancouver-based Alterrus Systems revealed this morning that it has been working with a major UK food processing company.
Alterrus has been conducting growing trials using its technology alongside Birds Eye Iglo Group. Its technology allows food such as basil and spinach to be grown in urban environments year-round in a sustainable way. Already in effect in Canada, Alterrus hopes to expand into England.
“There’s no waste water, no need for any pesticides and because it’s in a controlled environment, the water and nutrients are optimized and circulated through the system,” explains James Young, Birds Eye head of European vegetable procurement. “Because the crops are grown indoors, they are not affected by the weather and can be grown without pesticides.”
“The hypothesis is that we’d be able to have a continuous flow of material through the year, which would be a much better use of factory utilities,” he added.
Last November, Alterrus celebrated the opening of the first Local Garden rooftop vertical farm, and the harvesting of its first commercial crop of leafy greens, in North America. The vertical farm is in a greenhouse on top of a parkade in downtown Vancouver.
“In this greenhouse, we’ve married our VertiCrop vertical-farming technology with an existing building—an underused downtown parking garage—to create a locally produced and distributed product,” Christopher Ng, CEO of Alterrus, said at the time. “The greenhouse is a viable commercial operation producing fresh, healthy greens sustainably.”
Local Garden produces approximately 150,000 pounds of leafy green vegetables and herbs a year, free of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides and without the need for genetically modified seeds. The produce is distributed to local Vancouver grocers and restaurants, including Urban Fare, Cioppino’s, and Hawksworth.