Hydroponics start-up The Growcer has struck green by the way of a new partnership with Educational Foodservice provider Chartwells, as the two pledge to bring smart farming tech to post-secondary campuses across Canada.
The Ottawa-based company produces mini-hydroponic farms in converted shipping containers to grow fresh produce, which in this case will be used to feed the student population.
“Corey and I both experienced firsthand the impact fresh and nutritious food has while being at University,” said The Growcer co-founder Alida Burke said in a statement to Xtalks. “By working with Chartwells, one of our goals is to ensure students can have access to hyperlocal food with the 100-foot farm.”
Entrepreneurial duo Alida Burke and Corey Ellis founded the company while studying at the University of Ottawa in 2016 with the goal of aiding food insecure communities.
“Ag-tech innovations have an immense potential to support the growing need for food production, reduce waste, promote efficient resource use and create sustainable food systems,” continued Burke. “As technology is rapidly developing, ag-tech innovations will play an important role to meet this need in the future.”
Currently a member of Invest Ottawa’s accelerator, The Growcer also appeared on CBC’s Dragons’ Den in January, where they accepted a deal on the show but did not finalize.
“The Growcer’s incredible growth is just beginning with the global adoption of indoor farming. More and more, we are seeing ag-tech innovations such as hydroponics being used to address food security challenges, rising population, food prices and shrinking arable land,” said Nick Quain, Vice President of Invest Ottawa.
The retrofitted shipping container known as the ‘100-foot farm’ provides a controlled indoor environment to grow crops, capable of operating between -52 to 40 degrees. According to the company, this system uses 95 percent less water and 99 percent less land than conventional agricultural methods.
All the produce grown inside these mini-farms will be sold to Chartwells, the largest supplier of food services to colleges and universities in Canada.
“Where a Growcer system is in place, the students and faculty at the college or university will benefit from having fresh, local, sustainable and healthy produce grown only steps away from their food halls and dining areas, regardless of the weather,” said Ashton Sequeira, President of Chartwells in a statement to Xtalks. “The students will know that key ingredients in their nutritious meals are being locally-grown right there on campus – as little as 100 feet away!”
Chartwells has also pledged to donate 10 percent of the annual crop grown to fight local food insecurity in that specific community.
The company says it is currently in discussions with several colleges and universities across Canada, from BC to Ontario and the East Coast, to add the Growcer system on their campus beginning the Fall of 2019.