Agriforest, a Kelowna company, won a $150,000 grant to help them build a ‘greener’ greenhouse.
The propagation company uses plant tissue cloning to create disease-free trees and shrubs used in agriculture, forestry and environmental remediation.
Dr. Kamlesh Patel said that the company is using the grant money to work with engineers at UBC to create a prototype for a sustainable greenhouse. They are currently in the first year of a three-year project.
Patel said that their goal is to optimize the temperature control, minimize energy used for lighting and reduce water consumption.
In addition to being environmentally conscious, Agriforest is also run by a staff of predominantly female scientists.
In addition to working towards sustainable agriculture, Patel said that they are always thinking “how do we reduce the cost to the farmer?”
Patel said they hope to reduce both the overall production costs and the carbon footprint of growing specialized plants.
Agriforest grows a variety of plants, commissioned for agriculture, garden centers, forestry and restoration. Many of their berry plants will be sold to farmers that lost their bushes to floods.
Instead of seeds, the company uses plant tissue cloning to create exact replicates of plants.
To ensure uniform plants that are free from disease Agriforest uses a small sample of the mother plant to propagate into new plants. They grow the new plants in a specific nutrient medium for optimal growth. Once the saplings are strong enough they are transferred into soil to grow until they can be sold to farmers.
Currently, the greenhouse is full of haskap berry plants to be sold across the Okanagan.