Due to increasing populations in high-density areas, climate change, lack of nutrient dense soil and access to land, traditional farming has become an increasingly risky and complex business.
In the Okanagan we are surrounded by an abundance of farm fresh products that are readily available in grocery stores, restaurants and local farmers markets. We don’t have to go far to feed our families fresh, sustainable and nutrient dense products.
Not all communities are so lucky. Many urban centres do not have greenspace dedicated to food supply with farmlands often located hours away. As a result, big cities often rely on imports from outlying communities and countries to sustain food demand in densely populated areas. Transporting products long distances not only increases carbon emissions but it also increases the cost of the product and therefore limits accessibility to those who can afford it.
Even when communities have the ability to farm, food security can still be at risk due largely in part to uncontrollable factors. In recent years we have seen increases in floods, fires and droughts which can significantly impact crop yields and sometimes devastate them completely. Despite Canada’s size we have a very small proportion of land that is agricultural. Due to terrain, climate and soil quality only 7.3 % of all land in Canada is used for farming.
All of these factors have contributed to the consolidation of farming. According to the 2016 Census of Agriculture conducted by Statistics Canada there was a 5.9% farm decrease from the previous census in 2011. As farm numbers have decreased, the average area per farm has increased. By consolidating farms, we limit accessibility, crop diversity and increase difficulty for small farms to stay in business.
New technologies and practices however, are revolutionizing the way we grow, transport and consume produce. Farming as we know it is ‘growing-up’. Companies such as Plenty, Aerofarm and FarmBox Foods use hydroponics and aeroponics to grow produce year-round in vertical farms. These techniques use mineral and nutrient dense water to grow plants instead of soil. Seeds are planted in trays under red and blue LED lights and then stacked on top of one another or side by side creating large columns much like skyscrapers and multi-story buildings.
A popular way to construct veggie skyscrapers is by upcycling and outfitting standard 20ft and 40ft shipping containers. These units are completely water and rodent proof and can be stacked up to 17 high. Their Corten steel exterior make for very little maintenance and protect against extreme weather conditions.
Growing produce in a controlled environment eliminates pests which in turn eliminates the need for herbicides and pesticides. Vertical farming has the potential to provide fresh, nutrient dense produce to areas without farmable land and with limited space. Not only that, but vertical farming uses 70% less water than conventional farming, can convert black and grey water to drinking water and eliminates agricultural run-off. By implementing vertical farms in local communities, the need for mass produced GMO crops will eventually be eliminated, thus allowing eco-systems to regenerate and restore to a natural state.
As the agricultural industry evolves and adapts to new climates and density demands, farms are adapting their business models to take advantage of new opportunities in the market. Farmers continue to increase and improve crop yields through innovating and integrating new processes and technology.
Secure-Rite supports the agricultural industry by providing standard and modified, upcycled shipping containers for both traditional and progressive farming methods. Marrying sustainable methods with sustainable materials, we aim to support a multitude of industries in their pursuit to a greener business and a greener future. As Plenty says “Indoor vertical farming shines a new light on the way we do food. It calls for less time, space and resources while creating fresh, craveable produce that improves the lives of people, plants and the planet.”
Secure-Rite specializes in mobile storage, building solutions and custom design, utilizing one of the most durable structures in the world – shipping containers. We provide Western Canada with weatherproof and watertight sea cans for residential, industrial and commercial use. Whatever the need, Secure-Rite can provide simple, secure and smart solutions.