Local Leaf Farms grows up
Vertical farming operation branches out to Kingston with a $450,000 investment.
Barrie-based Local Leaf Farms has sprouted a new location in Kingston.
The vertical farming company recently announced it would be rooting itself within 800 Innovation Drive in Kingston’s east end this fall, bringing seven new full-time jobs to the city.
“As a gateway to eastern Ontario, Kingston represents the perfect mix with a city government which understands the importance of both innovation and the food sector, an economic development office that is exceptional in supporting business relocation, and a community that values sustainable, quality food products,” says Steve Jones, the company’s president and CEO. “Kingston was in our original six list of communities for expansion, and the strong support we have received bumped it up to number two.”
Local Leaf’s crops grow year-round in vertical rows indoors, where they require no herbicides or pesticides. This technique, invented by NASA, uses 95 per cent less water and requires 99 per cent less land than traditional farming. Once ready, the vegetables are packed into compostable containers and sent to local stores and consumers.
Underpinning the whole supply chain is sophisticated blockchain technology that provides insights to consumers, retailers, and government regulators so that, with the scan of a QR code, a buyer can find out when their greens were grown, and by whom.
It would seem the company’s fresh idea is arriving at the perfect time for consumers, as recent surveys by IPSOS suggest Canadians are increasingly concerned about food security due to COVID-19.
Local Leaf’s first facility started production just eight days before Ontario entered a COVID-19 state of emergency. The Kingston location is Local Leaf Farms’ first outside of Barrie, but the growing business has broader ambitions to open four more locations in Ontario before spreading across the country to 20 locations by 2025.
“Their business mission aligns with the City of Kingston’s vision for innovation, entrepreneurship and food security making it a great fit in our community,” says Shelley Hirstwood, Business Development Officer, Attraction & Aftercare with Kingston Economic Development Corporation.
The first products under the My Local Leaf brand should appear on Kingston store shelves in late 2020 or early 2021.