Lactuca urban farm moves to Northlands site

Lactuca, an urban farm that started in 2012 in the backyard of a Westmount home, has moved to a one-acre site on the Northlands grounds.
Lactuca now grows a variety of vegetables at a one-acre site at 112th Avenue and 79th Street. (Tim Adams/CBC News )

Lactuca, an urban farm that started in 2012 in the backyard of a Westmount home, has moved to a one-acre site on the Northlands grounds.

Business partners Travis Kennedy and Kevin Kossowan are still growing the varietal salad greens that made them well-known among local foodies.

They have have added tomatoes, beets, carrots, potatoes to the crops on the new site on 112th Avenue and 79th Street.

“This is the first time that Lactuca has been alive, that we are no longer struggling with space,” Kossowan told the CBC’s Tim Adams.

“We had a waiting list last year, couldn’t keep up to restaurant orders and had to pull out of markets just because we didn’t have enough product. Demand was too high. Now we have to go explore that demand again.”

Kossowan and Kennedy planted six linear miles of salad greens, all at various stages of growth, to keep a steady supply going throughout the summer

They harvested their first crop on Friday, an arduous process where the plants are picked, washed, bagged, weighed and delivered to restaurants all in one day.

Lactuca has expanded considerably from 2012 when Kennedy would grow the greens in his backyard, load them on his bike, and cycle to the nearby 124th Street Grand Market.

The venture has been controversial. Kossowan, a well-known local food advocate who is active on social media, says there has been a debate about whether urban farms should compete with rural ones.

Others question whether enough crops can be grown on a small city plot. Kossowan says Lactuca shows that it is possible.

“Thousands of thousands of thousands of pounds of salad mix [grown] without effectively using all the space,” he said

“So is that enough volume to matter? I think it is.”

With files from the CBC's Tim Adams

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