The rise of vertical farms has attracted the notice of the BC Vegetable Marketing Commission.
Also known as contained growing systems, vertical farms have become a popular way to produce leafy greens on small lots and marginal land.
But leafy greens – specifically, greenhouse-grown lettuces – are regulated by BC Veg as part of its statutory mandate “to promote, control and regulate the production, storage and marketing … in a manner which encourages the production and orderly marketing of high-quality product.”
On April 14, it issued a bulletin putting vertical farms on notice.
“Agritech operations that intend to use this technology or other innovative practices and controlled environment structures are reminded that vegetables and vegetable marketing are regulated in British Columbia by the Commission,” the bulletin notes. “Producers are required to be licensed by the Commission to grow, process or market regulated vegetables.”
The commission’s general orders define a greenhouse as “an enclosed structure.”
Most vertical farms in the province to date have been small operations. Supermarkets, for example, have produced living greens with the InFarm system. However, companies like CubicFarm Systems Corp. of Langley are supplying produce to high-end grocers and restaurants. Fresh Green Farms Corp. has struck a distribution deal with Oppenheimer Group that is underpinning construction of a 50,000-square-foot facility in Pitt Meadows that’s set to open later this year.