The Calgary-based company builds indoor farm equipment and technology, aiming to become a world leader in predictive agriculture. Together, G2V Optics and The Harvest Hub are pushing the boundaries of the types of crops that indoor producers can grow year-round – anywhere, any time.
And nothing is off-limits.
Earlier this year, The Harvest Hub harvested a crop of Southern Hemisphere saffron in the dead of winter at their Calgary research and development facility using G2V’s Perihelion commercial grade grow light equipment. Saffron is harvested from hard-to-grow crocus flowers and is one of the most expensive spices in the world, even more costly than gold per ounce.
When The Harvest Hub Co-Founders Alina Martin and Sean Fillion read a newspaper article about G2V’s ground-breaking light technology. G2V’s lights talk to plants and can tell them to grow bigger, faster and even more nutritious. The programmable lights can also mimic natural seasons, different geographic locations and specific daily light occurrences such as a sunset.
“Anyone can buy a grow light off the shelf, but G2V takes it to the next level with their special spectral light technology. They have the best lights on the market right now,” said Martin. “There’s also the longevity advantage. These lights are so far ahead of the competition that we don’t have to constantly be replacing them.”
Fillion added that while the price of G2V lights is comparable to other lights on the market, the technology isn’t even close.
Both Martin and Fillion are also attracted to G2V’s data-driven approach.
“They care about data a lot and so do we. You need to constantly be sending and receiving information to make sure your plants are getting what they need and are growing in the manner they should. That’s what predictive agriculture is all about”
The Harvest Hub first got its start when Fillion noticed that the majority of indoor vertical farms were growing in water using a method called hydroponics, aquaponics or aeroponics. While these methods have many benefits, they are largely unable to grow deep root products well, vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnips etc.
That’s where The Harvest Hub stepped in with its soil-based growing system and patent-pending airflow technology which helps grow indoor crops quicker and reduce problems with mold and mildew.
“We prefer using soil because you get deep diversification of crops, including vine produce and root vegetables such as carrots, not to mention nutritionally dense produce full of micro-organisms that are beneficial to gut health,” explained Martin.
The very first thing The Harvest Hub ever planted was a radish and since then they’ve grown more than 35 crops. So far, saffron has been the hardest and cauliflower the most stubborn.
Like G2V, The Harvest Hub is a mission-driven company that cares deeply about food sustainability, the environment and quality produce.
The Harvest Hub is also concerned about food security and how the access to healthy and affordable food largely depends on where you live. For example, a head of lettuce in Iqaluit, Nunavut can cost more than $8.
“Take a Thanksgiving dinner we’d have in Calgary, Alberta. A family in Nunavut most likely wouldn’t even have access to the majority of the ingredients or be able to afford them. Simple things like sweet potatoes are many times not within reach for these communities,” said Martin. “These are real challenges and vertical farming can help solve them.”
She added that when indoor farms are built correctly, they can also have a smaller environmental footprint by using less water, fertile land and energy.
Moving forward, the future remains bright for The Harvest Hub and G2V’s partnership.
Fillion is particularly excited about the ‘next generation’ of Perihelion lights that are set to be released by G2V in Spring 2020.
“Our discussions with G2V about the new age of lights that are coming next are game-changers. They will and are the only lighting company that not only sends information but receives,” he explained. “They will tie into our superhighway for data collection and creating plant recipes. The new lights with all the technology they are implementing are industry-leading.”