Lufa farms - re-inventing farming for the Urban age



In an effort to bring attention to sustainable urban agriculture and direct-to-consumer farm relationships, Lufa Farms -- the world's first rooftop commercial greenhouse - will contribute one percent of the value of each fresh produce basket it sells to consumers to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Mohamed Hage, founder and president of Lufa Farms, said Lufa also will make a small cash donation to the David Suzuki Foundation and encourage its farm-basket subscribers to contribute to the foundation as well.

The farm's first consumer baskets of herbicide-, pesticide- and fungicide-free fresh produce will be harvested by the end of April, Hage said.

City Farming is Possible

Hage said the new rooftop Lufa Farms greenhouse would advance the viability of sustainable urban agriculture.

'Like the David Suzuki Foundation, we want our efforts to be a catalyst for creating a different type of city and a different type of farming. We share the foundation's vision to change the way we grow and distribute food within our cities and to be a responsible partner to the environment,' said Hage. 'Our farm, and our own vision of farms across cities like Montreal, is intended to demonstrate that the economics of sustainability can be viable.'

The rooftop farm, which engages many energy-saving strategies and captures and recirculates rainwater, will supply approximately 1,000 local families with weekly vegetable shipments to various locations around the city.

'Our rooftop greenhouse project is based on a fundamental belief that rooftop farms are a way to reclaim arable land from the city, detoxify cities, and ensure Canada's food security. We can grow food responsibly, be mindful of our energy and carbon footprint, and provide quality food directly to city consumers without compromising the environment, the food's taste, or its nutritional benefit,' said Hage.

Karel Mayrand, executive director at the David Suzuki Foundation's Quebec office, said, 'Lufa Farms is a bright green example of how we can re-imagine urban farms in Canadian cities. They have changed the built landscape from barren rooftop to vibrant green space that will produce good food and improve the health of the local environment.  We appreciate their support and hope that this innovative project will inspire others to bring farming into the city.'

The Lufa Farms greenhouse is located on the rooftop at 1400 Antonio-Barbeau near the Marche Central. The farm's proximity to food buyers will be a major factor in the success of the venture.  Because distribution is exclusively local it does not rely on chemical pesticides or oher preservatives to retain freshness.

It features automated irrigation, temperature control, rainwater collection and filtration systems that are the key to growing enough produce for 2,000 people on one rooftop

Hage does not expect to make a profit on the business generated from this one installation. The company's long term plan is to expand from a single location to include a cluster of greenhouses. 'We need more greenhouses, more space,' he said in a recent interview.

Plans exist for another greenhouse on a city rooftop, five times larger than the original.

Clearly, Lufa Farms is an innovator to watch.

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