March 1, 2023 By Fruit & Vegetable
On Feb. 27, Unfold, a seed and digital solutions company in the vertical farming industry, and GoodLeaf Farms, Canada’s largest commercial vertical farm, announced their partnership to commercialize premium lines of vertically farmed spinach and other leafy greens through Unfold’s Innovation Partner Program.
“As a former vertical farm operator, I understand first-hand the importance of seeds that are specifically developed for indoor growing,” said Unfold CEO Sonia Lo. “GoodLeaf is the largest vertical grower in Canada and has already demonstrated its ability to successfully grow leafy greens in large-scale, fully commercialized vertical farms. Now, through our partnership, we will accelerate their product evolution with seed developed and optimized for their specific environment.”
GoodLeaf is currently building new facilities in Montreal and Calgary to expand upon its current production out of Guelph, Ont. With the completion of these two farms, GoodLeaf will produce over four million pounds of leafy greens annually; this is especially important for Canada, where spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens remain amongst the country’s top imports. Both farms will be fully operational later this year.
“Now that we have a solid foundation in place for our operations, it’s the perfect time to partner with Unfold,” said Barry Murchie, GoodLeaf president and CEO. “Having the right seeds to ensure our success is crucial as we grow our operations throughout Canada and help the country lessen its dependence on imported produce. Unfold will help us make that goal possible.”
Unfold’s Innovation Partner Program provides vertical farms access to the company’s plant biology expertise, digital tools and germplasm. This access is a competitive advantage to vertical farmers who often lack proficiency in seed genetics and agronomics for indoor farming and, as a result, are left to rely on suboptimal seeds that generate reduced quality and yields. Through industry collaborations such as this, Unfold is working to address these core challenges head on.
“All of our leafy greens are grown with passion, care and precision,” Murchie continued. “Our partnership with Unfold will help us accelerate the development of even more productive, premium-quality leafy greens. Our R&D team is excited to collaborate with their counterparts at Unfold to take our efforts a leap forward and develop new varieties with enhanced yield, taste, nutritional value and sustainability.”
Working together, the two companies aim to develop varieties of leafy greens (most notably spinach) that require less time and energy to produce while enhancing traits valued by consumers, like crunch, colour and taste. These new varieties will boost GoodLeaf’s produce output while lowering its production costs, allowing increased accessibility of fresh vegetables closer to consumers’ homes.
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