Vertical Farmer Extraordinaire! “Come Follow My Journey as I Disrupt the World of Agriculture!”

Posted on Aug 24 2016 - 6:33am by UOG
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I was always fascinated by growing food but turned off by how inefficient “conventional” methods are.  I did try them but between weeds, bugs, bending over, digging, and the rest, I knew there had to be a way to come up with a better mouse trap!  I started looking for something that could be used for vertical growing and that could be deployed at scale while staying within reasonable cost. The idea was of course to lower production costs and increase productivity.  While cruising the local store alleys I came across the over the door shoe organizers and that became my first vertical system.

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I have photos of this on my Instagram @ThePlantCharmer and it’s obvious from those that it grew plants REALLY WELL!  The issues came when it was time to amend/fertilize. We had to put a little bit of chicken manure pellets in each pocket and that took forever. Second issue was that each pocket being sealed from the next, the roots were limited in how much they could grow.  That also prevented me from deploying affordable automatic irrigation.  I started looking for a solution that would solve these challenges.  Enter the rain gutter systems.  Cheap to build, durable, easy to operate, solves all challenges mentioned above and yields up to 100$ per square foot at retail values.  I call it the holy grail of vertical farming.  One massive difference between what I do and other vertical operations is that we are WAY profitable.  We fixed all the quirks associated with vertical production and that translates into the highest production farming operation on the globe, however small it may still be at this point.  We’ve mastered production of over 100 crops in vertical systems and our catalog keeps on expanding rapidly.
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I think my biggest successes are with crops that are small and prone to pests and weed competition when grown at ground level.  Those also happen to be the most expensive crops because of the very difficulty involved in growing them.  Lettuce, both head and loose leaf comes to mind.  Arugula, most herbs also.  Strawberries is a huge one as they are very difficult to grow without chemicals and without incurring large losses and investing lots of labour.  We also don’t need to bend over to harvest or tend to crops and that’s huge.  Most people don’t realize that one of the main problems of farming is that there is no local labour.  Nobody wants the pain associated with it in exchange for minimum wage.  When we increase productivity and make labour a little more fun and less painful, we overcome this important challenge.  Farming suddenly becomes a viable career possibility.
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One of the main reasons we research vertical production in such an obsessive way is that this is the key to bringing local, fresh, affordable, chemical free food  everywhere.  I am building a full size farm next year and will be opening a sales location in a large city in parallel.  I will bring in a truck of fresh food every morning from our farm.  Our production levels, low labour requirements and direct sales model allows us to beat the competition on all levels.  Once this first operation is established we will slowly expand into every large city in Canada first, then the US.  We are in essence ushering in a new industry and pushing all middlemen aside.  Enter the era of seed to retail, traceable food systems.

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The produce I grow is what supports me and the research I conduct as well.  I sell it to neighbours, friends and people who have heard about us on social media.  This also is part of the research; I really wanted to go full circle and prove the model, from seed to repeat sales to a crowd of satisfied customers.  I give A LOT to charity.  My mom comes from a very poor background and I have always been extremely sensitive to poverty.  A smile from someone in need is better than a pay check for me.  I also try to balance this out with the very real need to pay my bills!  But ya it’s always a fresh food party on my block.  The neighbours are always like ” whats he gonna come up with next ” and that’s just awesome!  Me and my girlfriend also freeze and dehydrate a lot of stuff and are pretty much self sufficient in produce, bar the grain based foods and I think it’s pretty cool to know that we are eating real healthy foods!

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My favourite plant is the strawberry by far!  From a cultural point of view at least.  I love it’s fruit, yet it can be a very finicky plant.  Mastering its production vertically has been my biggest challenge so far.  It’s one of those fruits that you never seem to have enough off.  I’m particularly proud of my work on them as they are the most chemical sprayed crop out there so growing them clean is always a pleasure!

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  • Chickens&Veg

    I’ve just started veg gardening, and this is really inspiring. I was wondering how I was going to fit in all the crops that I want to grow for next year. Looks like we all need to be going up!