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Fernie hydroponics farm to open in spring

A Fernie-based indoor hydroponics garden is set to begin operations in the spring.

Evergreens Farm will be operated by Wildsight Elk Valley, with Sami Bierman at the helm as lead grower.

“The main goal is to create more access to food-growing spaces and local food year-round,” said Bierman. “It’ll be located on the same land that our community garden currently is.”

Evergreens Farm uses an indoor hydroponics system to grow crops, which Bierman said comes with a few advantages.

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“It’s a remarkably resource-efficient process, specifically with water and land,” said Bierman. “It uses about 90 per cent less water than conventional agriculture. We’re also able to grow vertically, using shelves. We can grow roughly three to five times as much produce as you can outside with the same sized piece of land.”

Bierman said the unit can save even more water thanks to dehumidifiers taking water from the air and putting it back into the farm’s reservoir.

The indoor system also allows for year-round growing, which Bierman said is a big deal in climates with short growing seasons.

“We’re able to have consistent and reliable food production in an area where we otherwise have around 90 frost-free days,” said Bierman. “It really increases our ability to produce food, especially in the winter in Fernie, where we can have a really harsh climate.”

Once in full swing, the 10 by 50-foot Evergreens Farm could produce about 500 heads of leafy greens per week.

Bierman said this represents a major step for local food security.

“We’re mostly reliant on these industrial supply chains, and as we saw during COVID, they’re susceptible to collapse or failure,” said Bierman. “By investing in local food systems, we’re able to shorten the supply chain and ultimately create more resilience in our own community.”

Wildsight officials said lettuce produced at Evergreen Farm will be available at the Local Store, Fernie grocery stores, some local restaurants and donated to vulnerable residents.

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