At first, people thought the massive greenhouse being built in Coaldale, near Alberta town, was destined for marijuana production. The timing seemed right, 18 months ago, when talk was rampant about cannabis legalization. Today, an estimated one million plants flourish under 5.5 acres of glass. They are lettuce plants, grown hydroponically in an automated robotic rail system that limits the need for any human hands to touch the plants.
The operation is called Whole Leaf, and it markets 19,000 to 33,000 heads of lettuce per day, depending on the season and its available sunlight. That is eight to 10 million heads of lettuce each year.