North

Yukon farmer finds equipment, know-how for project — now the money

Sonny Gray wants to grow leafy greens for Yukoners and says he's found the way to do it.

Sonny Gray wants to grow leafy greens for Yukoners and says he's found the way to do it

Toronto-based Elevate Farming says its technology for growing greens uses 99 per cent less water and 80 per cent less labour. (Elevate)

Yukon-based North Star Agriculture says it's found a supplier to provide the know-how and equipment for a $10-million facility outside Whitehorse to grow fresh produce.

Elevate Farming is a Toronto-based company that's developed its own technology.

Travis Kanellos, chief strategy officer for Elevate, said using vertical growing racks in a controlled setting allows for the mass production of affordable produce.

"We control the light, we control the sun effectively, so we can do a number of things that you cannot do outdoors," Kanellos said.

The company's website says it uses 99 per cent less water than traditional growing methods with 80 per cent less labour required.

Northstar's chief executive officer Sonny Gray said affordability is important. He wants his greens — spinach, swiss chard and lettuces — to sell for the same price in local grocery stores as greens from California.

Sonny Gray says his company's goal is to provide fresh and affordable leafy greens to Yukoners. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"It's important to us, it's part of our company's value that everybody has the ability to eat healthy and share in a nutritious and fresh product," Gray said.

The facility will be built at the Takhini Hot Springs. Gray said using waste water from the hot springs to heat the building will significantly cut costs.

The timing is not settled yet as Gray is still working on the financing. He said it will be a mix of private investment, borrowing and public funding.

Vertical racks in a controlled setting means 'we can do a number of things that you cannot do outdoors,' said Travis Kanellos of Elevate. (Elevate)

Gray's original plan for the project has changed. He was going to build a fish farm to provide fertilizer for the greens. He said that won't be possible now because of the cost. 

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