Last Saturday, Montreal was under a really cold spell. It was freezing enough that when you went outside, your nose hair (yes, we are at this point in our relationship) froze up!
It was the perfect day to go visit the Lufa Farms, and be reminded that someday, the sun would be back and that we would be able to garden again.
In the meantime, it was great to visit these urban farms. They use hydroponics on a large scale and grow different vegetables, herbs and greens that are sold in the Montreal area in the form of subscription baskets.
What makes these baskets different from other forms of CSA baskets, is that the member can choose the contents of his or her basket online. This makes for a more flexible basket that will really meet your needs, but also reduces waste as they only harvest what has been bought. Clever!
The tour was given by Mohamed Hage, the young and dynamic CEO and founder of the Lufa Farms. I thought is was pretty nice of him to directly give the tours, as I imagine his schedule to be quite busy. Meeting him was great, but it also made us a little jealous as the greenhouse we got to see was quite amazing and impressive.
This farm uses hydroponics systems and grows on coconut fiber as it is a neutral growth medium.
Water from the rooftop is recuperated and conditioned on the spot to provide with clean and readily available hydration for all these lovely plants. I thought this was quite clever too as it really takes advantage of the accessible resources.
A lot of greens are cultivated, but not only. As you have seen, cucumbers and bell peppers are also produced. If you have been following the narrative carefully, you will now ask yourself the following question: how are fruits produced in the dead of winter when no insect is there to pollinate? Glad you asked.
A little army of bees are normally installed on the rooftops during the summer. During the winter, bumblebees are used instead and live in these little yellow boxes. They are not the only insects populating the Lufa oasis. Indeed, the farms use biocontrol in the form of various insects (ladybug, anyone?) to hunt and protect the precious produce from pest.
If you were wondering, the distribution center is in the same building. In fact, night workers harvest and build the baskets that are then scattered around the city. This means that the produce is harvested in the morning, delivered and available to eat on the same day. Wow!
So, is this all worth it? Well, it is undeniable that the farm is impressive, the system well organized and the produce amazingly fresh. It is also a great way to eat locally all year round. We had tried one Lufa basket a few years back, but thought that even though the quality of the produce was quite extraordinary, the price-quantity ratio was to our disadvantage. As vegans, the quantity of fresh produce we consume is not supported through these baskets. However, it is such a well organized farm, with astounding principles and practices that it is worth giving it a try.
Let us know if you have a CSA basket or if you tried Lufa’s.