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Canada: Truly Green has a true ambition for their 90 acre green crop in Chatham-Kent

Leamington and Vancouver are probably the two locations in Canada where you can find large scale, high tech greenhouse operations. But why is it that Truly Green, with plans for 90 acres, is located in a place that is less popular for greenhouse growers? We visited the grower in Chatham-Kent, Ontario and learned more about this ambitious project.

The founders of Truly Green are tomato growers Greg Devries and Hilco Tamminga, together with their partner Phil Bultje. When they announced their plans in 2012 to break ground for one of the most energy efficient greenhouse projects in North America, the Canadian greenhouse industry was a bit startled. With the help of the residual energy and Co2 supplied from the nearby GreenField Specialty Alcohols facility, the pair eventually wants to expand to a total of 90 acres. This, along with the strong support that the municipality offered explained their choice for Chatham-Kent; thanks to the recovery of this waste heat and Co2 they are able to realize their dream to grow a real ‘green’ crop.

Right now they are preparing the second phase, the concrete piles are plotted and Canadian greenhouse builder South Essex Fabricating will soon start construction. The plans are that the new greenhouse will be ready on November 1, and they will be able to plant their first crop on December 1. Also the connection with GreenFields' ethanol plant on the adjacent side of the road is already preparing for the expansion, as well as the internal heat and Co2 distribution networks for phase 3 and 4.

Truly Green's Vice President of Greenhouse Operations Hilco Tamminga was so kind as to tour their facilities with us. He explained to us that it is their goal to grow a high quality crop that will have a low impact on natural resources, as there is a lot of energy already available from the nearby plant of Greenfields.

"Right now we are only using the Co2 of GreenField, but when the second phase is built, we are aiming that Greenfields will also start to distribute their heat to us in the summer of 2016. Last year we had already made a lot of preparations for this implementation; in the future we may have an abundance of residual heat and Co2 available. The dream of every greenhouse grower!"

But having that abundance of energy available, doesn't mean that Truly Green is a grower that will be spoiling their crops with energy. They have designed a well thought out infrastructure for the energy distribution in their glasshouses, maximising the size, design and layout to maximise the energy available. This layout also includes heating boilers that run on natural gas, a possibility to use the Co2 from the boilers and also a heating storage buffer tank of 4.5 million litres.

Tamminga: "It was our plan to design a system that would enable the tomatoes to be grown carbon-neutral with the help of the GreenFields plant that is providing low grade waste energy. Next to this, we are also installing a rain water collection pond this summer, thus increasing sustainability. This makes the greenhouse even more sustainable!"

Click here for the photo report of my visit to Truly Green in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.

For more information:
Truly Green Farms