Buying “local” has become increasingly important to Canadians. However, in a country where temperatures can stay well below freezing for half the year, and amid growing concerns about the impact recent weather events will have on the agricultural sector, producers are looking for ways to to grow and supply Canadians with fresh, locally sourced produce. produce throughout the year.
The Canadian greenhouse sector is the fastest growing segment of Canadian horticulture, in part thanks to the dedication and hard work of growers across the country. Greenhouse vegetables are a billion dollar industry in Canada; Alberta generated approximately $ 118.8 million in sales in 2020, up from $ 55.7 million in 2016. In addition, Alberta’s greenhouse sector is a key driver of the transition to sustainable agricultural production. and energy efficient.
Lethbridge College and Sunterra Greenhouse recognize that the current demand for fresh, locally grown produce far exceeds the available supply in a market that relies on imports from Mexico and the United States for most of the year. Lethbridge College will provide greenhouse research expertise to support applied research activities and develop new learning to advance innovative indoor growing techniques in Alberta.
“Foods made in Alberta are delicious and the development of our food sector supports local businesses and self-sufficiency,” said Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. “This new greenhouse project for strawberries grown in Alberta will provide product year round. for families in our province.
Results-Based Agricultural Research (RDAR) will invest $ 783,205 in this project. The RDAR recognizes the importance of producer-public-private (4P) partnerships and how such collaborations will benefit our agri-food industry.
“Supporting local and sustainable food production by strengthening research will improve the food we eat, the air we breathe and create vital jobs for rural communities in Alberta,” said Clinton Dobson, Research Director, RDAR . “This project is a great example of two organizations working together to improve greenhouse yields in Alberta and demonstrate production practices for the growth of Alberta’s greenhouse industry.
Evolution of technology
This project aims to optimize growing conditions for the pre-commercial and commercial production of grapevine strawberries and tomatoes and to increase agricultural production in Alberta during times of limited supply and low quality imports. Recognizing the unique attributes of the project, RDAR’s contribution supports the evolution of greenhouse production technology, which can help determine the optimal conditions for growing fresh, quality produce year-round in Alberta. The landscape of Alberta is prepared and ready for a boom in greenhouse production. RDAR funding will help increase food security for all Canadians by reducing our dependence on imported fruits and vegetables.
” It’s good news ; We believe that for Alberta agriculture is the future and in many ways will be an engine of economic growth, ”said Ray Price, President of Sunterra Group. “We have land, we have energy, we have people and we have water, and we should be using it to feed not only Albertans but people around the world.
Through this project, Lethbridge College will continue to build on its unique expertise in sustainable food production, improving indoor growing conditions by establishing best practices for water and nutrient management and energy efficiency. Thanks to technological innovations, greenhouse operations will increase their environmental efficiency while making their operations more productive and competitive.
“This grant funding marks the start of a long-term research collaboration between Lethbridge College and Sunterra Farms Greenhouses Ltd. for greenhouse fruits and vegetables. There is excellent market potential in our province for strawberries and tomatoes, and these pre-commercial trials in our Brooks research and production greenhouse with Sunterra will contribute to this growing industry.
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