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Some walls are built to create division; Harvest Today’s walls create sustainable agricultural opportunities. Director of Operations, Canada, William Aitken, is excited about the future of his family’s innovative agriculture-centric business. The local company designs and manufactures indoor growing equipment that fit together to house several hundred plant pods.
Built with individual tiles that fit together to increase in size and function for clients’ needs, each Harvest Wall can be custom designed. Clients are home consumers, restaurants, schools, farms, as well as commercial applications filling warehouses full of walls. The largest wall can provide room to grow 720 plants, and up to 6,000 plants in a single 40’ shipping container.
Harvest Walls allow users to “cut and come again,” noted Aitken. This means that Harvest Wall owners can have pods that grow “produce for well over a year.”
Beautiful, healthy, sustainable greens rival anything seen on a Michelin Star restaurant plate. Aitken added that “the flavour profile is insane!” But it’s nutrition-packed greens that also entice his clients.
For many communities, this form of agriculture is a game-changer. No longer do isolated communities have to wait for limp, expensive greens to be trucked in. residents can literally pluck them from their personal wall. It’s essentially wall-to-fork agriculture.
And this isn’t just a solution for isolated communities. Even in populated urban centers, shoppers are paying more for produce that seems much less appealing that that found in years past. With the Harvest Walls, residents would have nutritious, handy, sustainable options. It couldn’t get more local than food grown inside your own home!
Sustainability is a core value to Aitken. He explains that energy required to run the grow lights is only “1 KW of energy per hour.” And the pump is a 24v DC pump that turns on “three times a day for three minutes.”
Harvest Today is vastly different from other indoor vertical growing options.
Some vertical growing towers use non sustainable mediums such as peat moss or rock wool. And others rely on hydroponic models where roots stretch out to find nutrients.
This is where another sustainable feature comes into play for Harvest Today. Their walls invite users to use nutrient-rich, sustainable pods such as those created by local partner Typha Co. Typha is the Latin name for cattail. Cattails are harvested from freshwater lakes at the end of their growing season when they are chock full of nitrogen and phosphorus. (Overloading of these nutrients in freshwater lakes create potentially dangerous algae blooms.) Using cattails as a growing medium provides the plants much-need nutrients, while also “reducing algae blooms,” noted Aitken.
Sustainability factors don’t stop with limited carbon outputs, meager energy outputs and a renewable grow medium option that is “good for the environment,” said Aitken. The local indoor growing partner, Cal’s Crops, is also responsible for the lush greens thalocalt Aitken and his family promote in Manitoba. Cal’s Crops use the Harvest Walls to grow a myriad of produce that is sold to their expanding client base.
Despite an international presence, it was important to the family to keep part of the business local. The Canadian headquarters is located in the North End. Aside from being close to the family’s Stonewall, staying local has added benefits. Knowing that 16 lbs. of basil could be cut just from one Harvest Wall every week means that there may be extra produce available to donate to local organizations such as his business neighbour CHU – a non-profit that helps those who experiencing food insecurity.
Aitken and his uncle, Rick Langille who is also the CEO of Harvest Today, have the international patent to the indoor agriculture grow walls. With offices and sales also in Boulder Colorado, London England, France, Australia, Turkey, US Virgin Islands and Dubai; the business has a solid future.
In addition to their international success, it’s their local focus that excites Aitken. He sees opportunities everywhere.
Core benefits of this innovative form of agriculture go beyond additional sales and a sustainable product. Health benefits could be exponential.
Currently, there is a Harvest Wall at MITT where the culinary students use the rich produce in the program.
“Studies show the benefits of greens,” in schools and institutions.
Aitken shared some positive statistics on vastly declining recidivism rate in a California institution after the inmates participated in agriculture. From “65 per cent recidivism to 10 per cent, “was noted in a ten-year study,” he explained.
Aitken is excited about the future and definitely wishes to expand the company’s reach.
The size of the pods is set to increase, too. The company is working on 3.25-inch pods that will allow them to grow “vining and fruiting plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers,” explained Aitken.
To learn more about Harvest Today go to: www.harvest.today
See a Harvest Wall for yourself at Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon, MB. January 17-19 in the Innovation Showcase (booth 1913). Or, book a visit to see the facility in Winnipeg by calling (204) 771-9678.
This article is produced by the Advertising Department of the Winnipeg Free Press, in collaboration with Harvest Today