How Fresh Green Farms is Disrupting Traditional Agriculture
Founded in 2018 by brothers Shahram and Bahram Rashti, Fresh Green Farms is a sustainable indoor vertical farm producer of leafy greens, producing the safest, nutrient-dense, best-tasting fresh salad greens. Now four years into their business, the Rashti brothers are about to disrupt the agriculture industry with their research and innovative technologies.
What is Indoor Vertical Farming?
Indoor Vertical farming is exactly what it sounds like: using stacked vertical surfaces inside an enclosed space with Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) rather than the traditional, spread-out, land-constrained farming method. By using vertically stacked layers, farmers can produce significantly more food on the same amount of land. Combining artificial light and innovative growing methods instead of soil, vertical farms maintain the ideal environment for efficiently growing crops using aeroponic, hydroponic, or aquaponic systems.
Opportunity for Innovation
Warming temperatures, erratic weather, and increasing natural disasters due to climate change are making the business of agriculture and food security unpredictable, putting into question our ability to feed a growing global population using traditional farming methods. Rising fuel prices, crop loss, deforestation, and labour shortages increase the industry's volatility, making produce less affordable, while dated and inefficient farming methods harm and pollute the ecosystems.
We realized many years ago that climate change will have a devastating impact on current outdoor agriculture, ultimately making traditional growing methods very challenging and unsustainable.
- Bahram Rashti
Locally produced food, including leafy greens, continue to grow in popularity; however, due to Canada's limited growing season only 4% of lettuce consumed in British Columbia is grown in the province. Nutritional value and shelf life are lost by the time leafy greens are harvested, packaged, transported from countries with year-round growing capabilities, and delivered into customers' hands. While there are vertical farms in Canada, they generally are unable to operate at a profitable level and support commercial supply chains.
The Rashti brothers understood the challenges the agriculture industry faced, both in British Columbia and around the world. "After a couple of years of investigation and detailed market research, we decided that with my science and healthcare training and Shahram's IT and business background, we have the necessary experience, know-how, tools, and capabilities to tackle this multi-faceted endeavor," Bahram shares. Together, with their combined passion and unique skillsets, they decided to revolutionize the industry and put people and the planet first.
Changing the Game
After deciding to disrupt the current agriculture system, the brothers spent two years dedicated to research and development prior to officially setting up their company. "Our goal was to create and optimize our ecosystem for high-density indoor vertical farming of leafy greens," says Shahram. "We studied the market to identify best practices which we improved by developing specific processes and designs catered around our systems and equipment. By working with the best consultants and partners, we were able to continuously stream-line and refine our processes putting us a step ahead of the market."
The time invested in research and development paid off, allowing them to implement their own customized design of Deep Water Culture (DWC) technology and fully automating the integrated seeding, harvesting, and packaging lines in their facility. The Rashti brothers' system is hands-free, high density, and technology-driven, allowing them to supply leafy greens to the market in less time and with a significantly smaller footprint than that of traditional farming or other vertical farms.
The result of operating in a cost-effective building, implementing efficient technology and processes, and maintaining low labour margins.
"Shahram and Bahram Rashti have considered each component within Fresh Green Farms' business process," says Chad Rutquist, Crowe MacKay Partner, "from how to grow in a vertical operation, reducing overhead costs, best business partners, and more. This degree of care is what puts them on the path to success"
Fresh Green Farms' flagship location is now the most advanced, cost-effective hydroponic vertical farm for baby leaf greens and is anticipated to be profitable from its first crop in late 2022. The company's supply chain and proximity to distribution networks ensures that leafy greens will move from growing beds to local grocery store shelves within 24-48 hours. "By growing our produce indoors in a controlled environment, we can implement more robust safeguards from outdoor pests and contaminants," Bahram shares "therefore providing very safe, clean, ready-to-eat, and sustainably grown produce for consumers to enjoy without the need for pesticides and herbicides."
Through a holistic design and cutting-edge farming techniques, Fresh Green Farms is solidifying their market share before their competitors can even arrive on the shelves. "Our growing methods reduce unnecessary bruising of the products in harvesting and packaging," says Shahram "which leads to reduced food waste, better food security, and a longer shelf life, giving retail stores and food services more time to sell our product." Partnering with North America's leader of fresh produce distribution and marketing, the Oppenheimer Group, their leafy greens will be marketed, distributed, and sold at well-known retail chains and food services across North America under the vibrant brand UP Vertical Farms.
With the mission of providing fresh produce to consumers in a sustainable manner, Fresh Green Farms hopes to establish itself in agriculture procurement as a reliable, year-round supplier. With their eyes set on growth, the Rashti brothers have planted the seeds to be one of the largest, most sustainable indoor vertical farming producers of baby leafy greens by 2023, producing the safest, most nutritious, and best tasting salad greens.
With the shift from outdoor traditional agriculture to indoor vertical farming, we are in a privileged position to leave behind more of these precious resources for future generations of North Americans to enjoy.
- Rashti Brothers
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