VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2012) - Alterrus Systems Inc. (CNSX:ASI)(OTCQB:ASIUF) today celebrated the opening of the first Local Garden rooftop vertical farm - and the harvesting of its first commercial crop of leafy greens - in North America.
The vertical farm is in a greenhouse on top of a parkade in downtown Vancouver.
"In this greenhouse, we've married our VertiCrop vertical-farming technology with an existing building - an underused downtown parking garage - to create a locally produced and distributed product," said Christopher Ng, Alterrus (http://www.alterrus.ca/) CEO. "The greenhouse is a viable commercial operation producing fresh, healthy greens sustainably, and I'm proud of the hard work from everyone involved in getting us to this point today."
The produce is sold under Alterrus' Local Garden (http://www.localgarden.com/) brand. Local Garden will produce approximately 150,000 pounds of leafy green vegetables and herbs a year, free of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides and without the need for genetically modified seeds. The produce will be distributed to local Vancouver grocers and restaurants. Customers include SPUD.ca, Urban Fare, Fable Restaurant, Cioppino's, Hawksworth and other local restaurants.
"We believe this technology has the potential to transform Vancouver's food system," said Mr. Ng. "Vancouver produces a small percentage of its own food. We view Local Garden as a part of a transition to a more sustainable model of food production and delivery."
He noted that produce trucked from California can spend up to four days in transit. By contrast, Local Garden produces a fraction of the carbon footprint of those imports and is picked, packed and ready for the dinner table the same day.
The City of Vancouver is partnering on the project by leasing an underused rooftop of a city-owned parkade to Alterrus.
"We're very excited to work with Alterrus to create local green jobs and grow fresh produce right in the heart of downtown Vancouver," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who attended the launch. "This project demonstrates the innovative spirit in our City's booming clean tech sector. Transforming an underused downtown parking lot to create much-needed jobs and fresh, local food is a win-win-win."
Rick Sielski, Chief Operating Officer of Vancity Credit Union, which provided Alterrus with growth-capital financing for Local Garden, was on hand to offer his congratulations to Alterrus and Local Garden. "It's an innovative project that's creating jobs, producing local food and reducing its footprint on the environment," he said. "Projects like this are totally aligned with our vision at Vancity of building vibrant and sustainable communities."
The Grand Opening, at the EasyPark rooftop in downtown Vancouver, featured Celebrity Chef Trevor Bird, who has been a participant on Top Chef Canada and is owner of Fable Restaurant in Vancouver, one of Local Garden's customer's. He presented the speakers with a salad of Local Garden greens and a special dressing he created.
Also on hand were students from Lord Strathcona Elementary School who used iPads donated by the Vancouver Sun and the Hearts of Gold Foundation through the Adopt-a-School campaign. Students supported their community and educated guests on what they have learned in their curriculum about urban agriculture, sustainable farming and healthy diets.
Alterrus has hired workers for its Local Garden greenhouse through Mission Possible (http://www.mission-possible.ca/), an organization that helps those facing poverty, homelessness and other challenges, to find meaningful work. Up to four Mission Possible employees will work at the greenhouse to harvest and package freshly grown produce on site.
Alterrus' vertical-farming technology produces the Local Garden crops hydroponically. The greenhouse is scheduled to produce up to 500 pounds of leafy green vegetables a day including leafy greens, lettuce, spinach and herbs. All produce is picked and packed onsite.
In the 6,000 square-foot Local Garden greenhouse, 4,000 square feet is dedicated as growing space while the remaining space is used for packaging. Produce is grown in trays stacked 12 high and circulating on conveyers to give plants even exposure to heat, light and humidity. The greenhouse produces significantly higher yields with less than 10 per cent of the water required for traditional field agriculture. Virtually all excess water is recycled.
The Local Garden vertical farm will operate year round. Its controlled growing environment shelters its produce from contamination and irregular weather patterns that are challenges for growers of traditional field produce.
Local Garden Vancouver Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alterrus Systems Inc.
About Alterrus Systems Inc. Alterrus is a publicly traded company (CNSX:ASI)(OTCQB:ASIUF) headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. It is a world leader in the development, manufacturing, operation and integration of commercial VertiCrop technology for global markets. Alterrus has created a sustainable vertical growing system that grows fresh, nutritious, leafy green vegetables in urban environments where they are to be consumed. Using a fraction of the resources needed for traditional field agriculture, Alterrus generates substantially higher yields than conventional farming and its VertiCrop technology was selected by TIME MAGAZINE as one of the best inventions of 2009.
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