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Montreal has the world’s biggest rooftop greenhouse

by Fern Clair September 29, 2020
Montreal has the world’s biggest rooftop greenhouse

Lufa Farms opens its fourth rooftop greenhouse in Montreal, which can feed over 10,000 families

Lufa Farms opened its fourth rooftop greenhouse, the biggest in the world, on Aug. 26. The greenhouse is 163,000 square feet — almost three football fields — and is located in the borough of Saint-Laurent.

According to Lufa Farms, the greenhouse is capable of growing enough food for 10,000 families, meaning Lufa Farms can double its production, going from feeding one per cent of Montreal to two per cent.

Adiran Munoz, who is doing a major in Biology and a minor in Sustainability Studies, sees this increase in sustainable food practices as exciting, and he hopes this means that more businesses will invest in this type of agriculture.

Lufa Farms opened its first rooftop greenhouse in 2011 in the borough of Ahuntsic, and at the time it was the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse. Since then, according to Euronews, organizations began building their own rooftop greenhouses — such as American Gotham Greens, who built eight greenhouses in New York City, Chicago, and Denver.

“It’s kinda crazy, I’m actually subscribed to the Lufa Farms food baskets, but I had no idea that they were such a game changer in the rooftop greenhouse world,” said Munoz. He explained that Lufa delivers weekly boxes of local food, and that customers call themselves ‘Lufavores.’

At Lufa Farms, over 100 varieties of vegetables and herbs are grown year-round in hydroponic containers lined with coconut coir and given liquid nutrients to promote growth.

Bumblebees pollinate the plants, while wasps and ladybugs keep aphids in check — without the need for pesticides.

“Growing in a greenhouse means you can use good bugs to fight bad bugs, instead of relying on pesticides,” said Munoz. He explained that this process is called integrated pest management, and that it can’t be used outside a greenhouse because the bugs would simply fly away. “Bugs are an excellent, and overlooked, tool in keeping crops healthy.”

Munoz explained that greenhouses have less food waste than in a normal field setting. This is because the crops aren’t affected by wind, rain, or animals.

“These plants are grown in an environment that is designed to be perfect for their development,” said Munoz.

“It’s an unbelievable step forward for hyper-local, sustainable urban farming,” said Mohamed Hage, co-founder and CEO of Lufa Farms, in a press release regarding the new greenhouse.

“With each greenhouse, we hold ourselves to an ever-higher standard for sustainable design,” said Lauren Rathmell, Co-Founder and Greenhouse Director.

“Our new farm will be the most energy efficient to-date and [will] integrate all our learnings from the last 10 years to responsibly grow more vegetables for Lufavores year-round,” Rathmell said.

“This greenhouse will facilitate residents’ access to local, sustainably-grown products and further promote healthy habits,” said Alan DeSousa, Saint-Laurent’s Mayor. He explains that the greenhouse will combat ‘heat islands,’ which is an area in a city that is significantly hotter than surrounding rural areas due to human activity.

“Honestly I just feel happy that I can say I live in the city with the world’s biggest [rooftop] greenhouse,” said Munoz. He explained that he hopes this inspires people to buy sustainable produce, not just from Lufa Farms, but from local farms and businesses, too.

“I find so many people are talking about climate change, and how they can be sustainable, and the best way you can do that is to buy locally,” said Munoz. “If you buy locally then bigger companies will get the message, and not ship things from across the world.”

 

Photo courtesy of Lufa Farms

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