3,200 people have already signed up for the company’s weekly vegetable boxes:

Canada: Lufa Farms nurturing heirloom, specialty vegetables well into winter

Weeks and weeks after the last field tomatoes of the season disappeared from gardens and farmer’s fields around Montreal, a crop of heirloom and specialty tomatoes is ripening on the vine at a new one-acre rooftop greenhouse that sits above a decor outlet near Carrefour Laval. The greenhouse belongs to Lufa Farms.

The idea of great-tasting tomatoes outside of those few short weeks of summer is so exciting to Montrealers that more than 3,200 people have already signed up for the company’s weekly vegetable boxes, which are distributed at 200 drop-off points around the city.

The woman in the sci-fi outfit who has come to greet us at the Laval greenhouse entrance is Lauren Rathmell, a McGill University microbiology graduate and a founding partner in Lufa Farms, which opened the world’s first rooftop commercial greenhouse in 2011 near the Marché Central. Staff and visitors are required to don protective clothing and dip their feet in a soapy solution before entering the greenhouse. These are precautions meant to keep out aphids, white flies and other garden pests, since the greenhouse is pesticide-free.

Rows of tomatoes and eggplants grow in coconut-fibre bags filled with soilless medium, fed and watered through a network of plastic tubes. Bumblebees were introduced to buzz around, pollinating the blossoms; ladybugs and parasitic wasps prey on whatever pests manage to find their way in.

Rathmell says the commercial rooftop greenhouse garden is the eco-friendly farm of the future, and indeed the model has already been reproduced by other companies in New York and Vancouver. Lufa itself is planning to expand into Boston and maybe Toronto.

Source: montrealgazette.com

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