Nick Brusatore, CEO of Vertical Designs Ltd. has made an agreement with Rendavi Developments to develop 6.5 acres in Squamish, BC into a vertical farming facility named the “Plant Science Hub”. The farm is estimated to grow 10 times more produce than open field agriculture does (a yield multiplier that we have tested and is both robust and modest). Nick Brusatore, who used to be part of Terrasphere is a pioneer in the vertical farming industry. This will surely be a project to watch.
A company exploring the next generation of farming technology plans to make Squamish its new home.
Vertical Designs Ltd. (VDL) and Rendavi Developments Ltd. have an agreement to purchase 6.5 acres of Squamish land at an undisclosed location to build one of North America’s largest vertical farming facilities.
“We are excited,” Nick Brusatore, VDL’s CEO and technology designer, told The Chief, noting initially it could add 20 new jobs to the community’s labour pool. “We want to create something that is going to bring a lot of attention to [Squamish].”
The “plant science hub” would be comprised of two buildings — one specializing in vegetables and the other focusing on medical marijuana, Brusatore said, who also heads pharmaceutical company Abattis Bioceuticals Corp.
The new facility is set to be filled with tiered crop growing systems, with regulated air temperature and lit with energy-efficient light bulbs. Vertical growing can not only cut out the need for pesticides, but it also saves hundreds of litres of water, Brusatore said. Soil isn’t required for the process. Plants’ roots are immersed in water containing mineral nutrient solutions.
“Everything is locally grown in Squamish throughout 12 months of the year,” Brusatore said. “Not only that, we are creating jobs both in an entry-level capacity, as well as in research and development.”
Vertical farming is a rapidly growing industry, he noted. It’s quickly becoming one of the cleanest and quickest ways to generate greens, Brusatore added. Once up and running, Brusatore expects the facility to grow approximately 10 times more produce per square foot than greenhouse productions.
VDL has inked licensing agreements for similar projects with Ontario and Alberta, in the Atlantic region and Minnesota. The plans are on hold until the proposed Squamish facility proves to be profitable, Brusatore said. With the company’s anticipated growth, Brusatore said down the road VDL could employ approximately 60 people.
“I can turn Squamish into a major production hub with a tonne of jobs,” he said.
The proposal should be on the District of Squamish’s table by the end of May. Financing for the project could be secured as early as October, with construction beginning in January of 2014.
Brusatore has worked in the industry since 2000. He serves on the science advisory board for BG Medical Technologies — an organization that brought him aboard to advise and guide developing solutions for natural medicinal production of marijuana.