AquaVerti Farms is a hydroponic vertical farm located in Montreal.
We produce locally and responsibly a variety of leafy greens and salads sold at grocery stores.
Our mission is to reduce Canada’s dependence on imported products and inspire other producers to grow more sustainably and without toxic pesticides. We aim to provide year-round, high-quality greens at an affordable price for all.
Our vision is to turn Canada from a net importer of leafy greens to a net exporter.
Tell us about yourself?
I immigrated from Syria in 2010. Having been exposed to agriculture and the import/export of food products from a young age, I was intrigued by the potential of farming and Agtech in Canada.
I was always passionate about food, data, and technology, and I found an opportunity to level up food quality and offer stable, year-round prices to the local market by producing in controlled environment farms.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Looking back in time, I would have liked to invest more time earlier in working with different ethnic communities to introduce different flavours, greens, and herbs that do not exist in Canada. Being a foodie, I would love to make our community discover different flavours from different parts of the world, even when it’s -20C.
What problem does your business solve?
AquaVerti Farms solves the issue related to food availability, quality, and safety.
By producing locally, in a controlled environment, we are able to produce all year round irrespective of climate, which makes Canada more resilient and independent in case of geo-political or environmental disasters.
We do not need to apply any chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, which allows us to offer a superior quality product that is sustainably grown for us and the planet.
Finally, we are able to help reduce food waste as our products are grown where they are consumed, reducing travel time and CO2 emissions by over 99 per cent. This gives our products extended longevity.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
What inspired AquaVerti is the big swings in product quality, prices, and availability between seasons. I also stumbled through an article that mentioned Canada would only have enough food for 48 hours if the U.S. closed.
What also inspired AquaVerti is our ability to produce large, commercial volumes of packaged salad without any pesticides and with 99 per cent fewer emissions. Agriculture, depending on various reports, contributes anywhere between 15 to 30 per cent of the Green House Gas emissions. We will never be able to solve the climate crisis, let alone reach our Paris Climate Objectives, if we do not tackle Agriculture. We aim to inspire other producers to grow better and more responsibly.
What is your magic sauce?
The team is our magic sauce. We have a team of young and motivated individuals from different backgrounds that are looking to positively impact their communities and their environments. What differentiates us from the competition is our product quality, taste, and stability of the supply chain. The ability to control our environment allows us to understand how to control the taste, texture, and even colour of our produce using data and controls (such as types of LEDs, different growing temperatures, humidity, air flows…mass data, basically)
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We aim to expand our megafarm to include a hybrid model of indoor farms and greenhouses that are interconnected. This will help us reduce our energy consumption and become more sustainable, all while being able to produce a bigger variety of plants.
We also aim also to begin serving the U.S. market, slowly converting Canada and Quebec into year-round exporters of leafy greens.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Inflation and rising input costs have been our biggest challenges so far. Our cost of production has skyrocketed, and we try not to pass on the cost to consumers as we believe Canadians have suffered more than enough with inflation and rising interest rates. Other issues have been the availability of labour.
How can people get involved?
A way people can reach out to us is to contact us via email ([email protected]) and give us feedback on our existing products.
Another way for people to get involved is to let us know what products they are looking for, and we can start testing them in order to potentially introduce them to the market. Finally, if you are looking to volunteer, we also have a lot of impact and community-based projects we would like to implement but do not have the financial or human resources for.