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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • FEBRUARY 2019


31 Microgreen grower attracts far-flung following


Salmon Arm hydroponic grower harvests sales in Calgary


by JACKIE PEARASE SALMON ARM – A different


kind of hydroponic grow-op has set up shop in the Shuswap, looking to meet the demand for leafy greens. Living Leaf Growers started


producing microgreens in a corner of Salmon Arm’s Westgate Public Market late last year, planting its first crop in October and harvesting its third in early January. The 2,500-square-foot space has four sections, each with seven rows of hydroponic growing rafts reaching to the ceiling. Owner Karen Dow expects to have 28,000 plugs of produce – arugula, cabbage, kale, pea shoots, basil, lettuces and more – growing when the facility is fully operational. “We’re hoping within two


to three months we’ll be at full capacity for harvesting upstairs and down,” says Dow. “When the full system is going, we’ll be harvesting 7,000 heads of produce a week.” In addition, PVC piping along one wall is ready to receive 700 ever-bearing strawberry plants set to arrive in March. Growth has been steady. The first planting resulted in nearly 50 bags of microgreens, and the second crop yielded 80. Dow and a crew of three picked another 130 bags in January. Dow is an accomplished businesswoman, but has no gardening experience. She hired Wolf Wesle from Green Croft Gardens in Grindrod to help with the initial set-up and deal with the inevitable snags along the way, like a leaky raft system. “We have to go to a


different raft system, which is really what we should have done from the beginning. That was a mistake but that’s all part of it,” she says. “So, yeah, we’ve had a lot of challenges in there, but they’re fun.” Wesle combines formal


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Living Leaf Growers owner Karen Dow checks out a crop of oak leaf lettuce presented by consultant Wolf Wesle. Living Leaf is looking to fill a growing market for microgreens. JACKIE PEARASE PHOTO


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