The good food guys

Mon­treal has be­come home to the world’s first com­mer­cial rooftop farm

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - The Food Issue - KEN­DALL HILL

FOR a city where the sig­na­ture dish is pou­tine — a junky hang­over hash of chips, cheese curd and gravy — Mon­treal has a sur­pris­ing pas­sion for good food.

I’m not talk­ing about its bagels, renowned as some of the best in North Amer­ica, or its thriv­ing fresh-food mar­kets show­cas­ing the fruits (and veg­eta­bles) of re­gional Que­be­cois agri­cul­ture.

This is about the in­ge­nu­ity of peo­ple com­mit­ted to lo­cal pro­duce, sus­tain­abil­ity and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. From rooftops to ru­ral farms, Canada’s sec­ond-largest city is help­ing change the way peo­ple eat.

In the mid­dle of a light in­dus­trial area 4km south of down­town, I don a white coat, wash my hands and dis­in­fect my shoes to visit a rooftop Eden called Lufa. In this el­e­vated green­house, two storeys above the street, the roof space has been turned into a quar­ter-hectare show­piece of ‘‘geek agri­cul­ture’’, as Lufa co-founder Kurt Lynn de­scribes it.

‘‘It’s tech­nol­ogy, but it’s about try­ing to fa­cil­i­tate agri­cul­ture, not change it,’’ he says.

The world’s first com­mer­cial rooftop farm is an ex­tra­or­di­nary sight. Reg­i­mented lines of 8m-long tomato plants climb sky­wards; squash flow­ers twirl around train­ing wires like pole dancers. More than 25 veg­etable and herb va­ri­eties thrive in this cli­mate-ad­justed com­put­erised farm where wa­ter is re­cy­cled, en­ergy ra­tioned and syn­thetic pes­ti­cides banned. Aphids are con­trolled with soapy wa­ter or by un­leash­ing a le­gion of la­dy­bugs.

All this ef­fort is for a wor­thy cause. Lufa feeds Mon­treal­ers. About 2000 lo­cals reg­is­ter on­line each week for a box of pro­duce grown and har­vested at Lufa and de­liv­ered to one of 60 pick-up points around the city.

‘‘The idea is to de­crease the dis­tance be­tween pro­ducer and con­sumer,’’ says Lynn. ‘‘Our goal was 5km.’’ With shorter dis­tances, there’s less need for re­frig­er­a­tion and the vast amount of en­ergy it con­sumes. Lufa’s model elim­i­nates chem­i­cals and plas­tic pack­ag­ing.

The farm was con­ceived five years ago by Lynn and web en­tre­pre­neur Mo­hamedHage. Con­struc­tion be­gan in au­tumn 2010 and the first har­vest was in spring 2011. Lufa broke even in Fe­bru­ary last year.

On the ba­sis of this suc­cess, a sec­ond rooftop farm is due to de­but i end of this no green­house in Philadel­phia a

‘‘Mon­treal ary be­ing -20 and in summe that can get e Mon­treal, an where. Cities back. We are t

They’re no mont Queen treal’s Cen­tra be­tween plan ers, straw­berr

Clock­wise fr trained as ap

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.