John spoke to our Club about Lower Shannon Farms.
Canada imports about 90% of what we consume. Local markets product the remaining 10%. Some of the produce we import comes from countries who do not have or enforce their regulations for preservation and other chemicals. John sees this as a massive opportunity to supply the local communities with locally grown natural products. They try to keep their products as natural and healthy as possible.
They have a 6 bay greenhouse, with a footprint of 15,500 sq ft., that produces vegetables year round, instead of the 9 month window we get in the summer.
Most of the systems are computerized such as: temperature, lighting, energy curtain, etc. They have a biomass boiler system which is fuelled by flax straw. It produces 1 million BTUs. Has zero emissions, and is 85% more efficient than natural gas. High initial cost to install, but very economical to run versus natural gas heating systems. The boiler provides the greenhouses with in-floor heat.
Current production includes: 3 varieties of tomatoes, 2 varieties of cucumbers, lettuce, and 3 varieties of peppers.
The farm also has installed one tower with 3 wind powered turbines which produce 3-5 kilowatt hours. This energy is fed into the grid which offsets their power usage.
They also have a market garden which they used to grow strawberries this year. It extends the growing season by 2 months.
The farm also is involved with poultry (hens and turkeys). The farm feeds the poultry with grain grown on the farm. They are truly free range, and a natural product.
The farm also has 80 head of cattle. They do not use any growth hormones, and they cut and keep their own green feed. The feed is not sprayed with any chemicals, and therefore the beef is also truly a natural product.
The farm also uses natural methods of pollination such as aphids and bee hives.
They currently sell through the local farmers markets.
Future endeavours: looking at a retail store, Co-op and Sobeys have shown interest in selling their products. They are expanding to 150 head of cattle. Also currently looking into micro greens.