They should be growing strawberries near Salmon Arm by the end of December. Frost in the ground and snow won’t affect Zion Growing Solutions’ plan to set up their year round farming business in neighbouring Tappen.
“We’ve had delays with all the goings on here,” says Zion’s president David DenHollander referring to weeks of diverted focus while wildfires and smoke plagued most of the North Shuswap. “We’re just in the process of installing support systems and our vertical growing towers are showing up in a couple of weeks.”
Zion Growing Solutions is a Salmon Arm based company who will be partnering with Agriplay out of Calgary to supply their vertical growing towers. Agriplay has already turned millions of square feet of unused office space in Calgary essentially into farms and DenHollander is excited to bring the company's technology to B.C.
DenHollander says they’ll be starting with strawberries. “Once we get the systems installed and it’s up and going, we should start producing fruit within 30 days.”
The growing will happen on the Tappen based property that once housed Orica’s blasting cap factory. The site which is located just off Trans-Canada Highway near Recline Ridge, sits on 160 acres and has several existing buildings.
DenHolander wants to transform that space into an “eco-park” that will not only take indoor farming to the next level but create a space for up and coming technologies like the use of thermal batteries, solar technologies, and exploring water-saving solutions; all this while improving local food security.
DenHolander explains, they’ve chosen to start with the Monterey variety of strawberry for it’s taste and continuous growth cycle, “What differentiates us is we can be producing local strawberries 12 months a year.”
The product will be sold under the brand name “Tappen Valley Produce” and Zion has already secured shelf space with local grocers and a “major national chain.”