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Increased coloration and decreased growing time are additional results
Acrylite roof improves microgreen yields by 20 percent
Microgreens are quickly being entrenched – and embraced – in Ontario’s retail market. A heavy consumer movement that embraces the variety of greens grown calls for expansion of facilities for growers.
Greenbelt Microgreens has recently expanded its Woodhill, ON location, which was a two-year process. It is currently at about 75 percent capacity and according to Michael Curry, will more than likely be at full capacity by this coming winter.
Part of the expansion involved installing an Acrylite roof to cover the 3.5-acre greenhouse; a costly but worthwhile investment. Curry says they’re the first installation of this roof style in North America. The roof is fully UV transparent and offers the equivalent to growing outdoors. “It has increased our yields by at least 20 percent and decreased growing time by about one day,” he says. “It has also increased coloration in the crop and quality of the plants so it’s well worth the investment.”
Greenbelt Microgreens has recently won two awards acknowledging its innovation and hard work: the 2018 Food in Canada Leadership Award and received the top honor of the Ontario Premier's Award for developing an eco-friendly process to grow organic microgreens year-round.
Also new at the Woodhill location are 20 automated watering booms for irrigation and Heliospectra helio lights over a portion of the greenhouse crop, which will be used more often in the wintertime or when it’s cloudy in the summer. Curry adds that their new Marco packing line, a negative weigh system, has sped up efficiency greatly. The physical expansion will continue to allow them to focus getting product into more Ontario stores. They recently added Farm Boy to their list of locations.
Even though microgreens are still on an upward trend Curry says they’re also moving into a baby leaf program; perhaps microgreens 2.0. As a size comparison to the tiny greens, he says baby leaf is about three times the size. “It’s still a microgreen but it’s grown 10 days longer so we get a larger leaf,” says Curry. The first two iterations are a premium baby arugula and baby beet. “Baby leaf is just one more area we see more opportunity to produce them year round in Ontario and start to chip away at some of the imports.” Most of the baby leaf he sees coming into Canada are field grown. The feedback they’ve received from retailers is that imports sometimes lack consistency and don’t have a long enough staying power. “They’re interested in being able to have year-round and willing to pay for a premium product with a 13-day shelf life. Soil-based growing and sunshine is the base for the quality of taste and shelf life in our product.”
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Publication date: 6/7/2018
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