BIBLE HILL - A local agri-food company is using its own process to grow produce 365 days a year and that could lead to a more healthy society, says Gregg Curwin, president of TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture Ltd.
"The health issue is a big one and I have a heartfelt believe that our health system is imploding," Curwin said Friday afternoon. "People want to live long, healthier, stronger and disease-free and to live disease-free is all about how we eat and how we move.
"Leafy vegetables are number one along with fruit and as a plant company (TruLeaf) has a host of opportunities."
Opening for business just over a year ago, TruLeaf has been operating a research and development facility within the Perennia Innovation Centre in Bible Hill for the past three months.
The company, which employs five people currently, produces a variety of romaine lettuces, kale and basil inside the facility.
"Some of the benefits are that we remove the weather components and our produce is pesticide-free," Curwin said.
"We grow the produce with our own process, so we give the plant an ideal growing environment 24/7."
TruLeaf uses LED lights to have tight precision control over the lighting regime.
Since the spring, the company has received about $355,410 in federal funding through ACOA. A $250,000 provincial government came early this summer from Innovacorp.
"The money has primarily been used in the development of technology at our facility here," said Curwin. "We've developed our systems and prototypes, as well as the facility."
Curwin said the money, which was in conjunction with other funding, puts TruLeaf in a better position to move to the next phase and level - building a large-scale farm.
"We're working with a variety of North American supermarkets and food service companies, and the interest level is high," Curwin said about the farm.
"We're looking at a couple of sites in the area and ideally we would start work in the fall. We'd like to be producing by this time next year."
With the sights set on the large-scale farm, Curwin expects to take the TruLeaf team from five to 20 employees by this time next year.
"All out of this area, hopefully," he said.
During yesterday's funding announcement, Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong said the work TruLeaf is doing could potentially "change the world."
"TruLeaf is changing how the world grows produce," he said. "They're bringing traditional farms to non-traditional places. Can you imagine providing food to remote communities up north?"
Armstrong said one of the biggest problems when it comes to produce is transportation, where produce often goes bad before it reaches its destination.
In announcing the provincial government's contribution, Truro-Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann said this type of project is the way of the future.
"The fact that TruLeaf's technology could one day grow fresh produce anywhere in the world is astounding and could be a game changer to those (non-government organization's) fighting world hunger," she said.
ABOUT TRULEAF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE LTD
- Started with an idea three years ago with Greg Curwin, president of the company
- Has a 3,000-square foot facility inside the Perennia Innovation Centre in Bible Hill
- Opened the research and development facility three months ago
- Employs five, including Curwin
- Uses its own process to grow produce, such as romaine lettuce, kale and basil
- Looking at various sites in the Truro area for a large-scale commercial farm that TruLeaf hopes to have operational and producing by this time next year
- Removes weather and pesticide opportunities from its produce, which grows 365 days a year