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tenant feature: farmboys design corp


Meet FarmBoys Design Corp. They’re an innovative, high-tech company that’s all about growth. Of the nutritious plant variety, that is.

Located at Innovation Place in Saskatoon, the FarmBoys team transforms sea containers into fully automated, modular, self-growing systems that can produce 1.5-acre crops of delicious, fresh, leafy greens in a matter of days.

The containers can be transported anywhere—to locations where proximity to markets poses a challenge, or in locations where space or climate creates inhospitable growing conditions—via railcar or flatbed truck. Once in place, each container runs on power (if available) or on an off-grid solar/wind system.

The container interiors are divided into two sections: the control room and the grow room.

Inside the control room is an enormous water tank—the demo unit in the Innovation Place parking lot can hold 2,000 litres of water that’s cleaned and recycled from—surprise!—Saskatoon’s own Golfs Carwash. The water is neutralized and filtered, then “rebuilt” with a special combination of tonics and minerals to replicate the makeup of water found in a river or stream.

Every hour, in intervals dictated by the plant’s needs, a watering cycle occurs. Water gravity feeds from the large tank into the vertical planters located inside the grow room. During the cycle, filters and pumps circulate balanced, nutrient-rich water to the plants in the correct volume and frequency.

Also in the control room are terminals that monitor and adjust internal air temperature and air quality by reading the CO2 level, the humidity and the air temperature of the grow room—information drawn from sensors and that can be accessed and adjusted remotely via smartphone. The computer in the control room offers a webcam view of the grow room, which is also accessible remotely.

The control room is also home to a door—a door with a green, plastic film on it that gives only a slight, glowing hint of what’s just beyond it. This door leads to the grow room.

The grow room is a brilliantly bright, white, sci-fi-esque space full of pole-like planters that are surrounded by quartets of cool, full-spectrum LEDs. From each planter spills mini-crops of vibrant greens—Swiss chard, kale, chives, arugula—in various stages of growth.

In the insect-free, climate-controlled grow room, microgreens turn over every 6–7 days from seed. If the plants enter the container after being propagated in a tray, they’ll be ready in 4 days. The system can support a variety of different vine-based crops—strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes, to name a few.

The units can be grouped to form one giant farm that can grow a large assortment of crops, all at one time. Imagine the impact of these futuristic containers in remote mining camps or northern communities, where food supply consistency and predictability is often a challenge.

The demo unit has been operational for just over a month, and has supplied Boffins Public House with microgreens and Swiss chard. Through that partnership, the FarmBoys team takes the list of items that Boffins normally orders from Sysco and provides everything they can at the same price. They’ve also supplied the University of Saskatchewan’s Culinary Services with fresh produce.

Find the FarmBoys demo unit in the parking lot east of 421 Downey Road, or visit Boffins to taste the delicious results of this sophisticated, soilless, aeroponic system for yourself.

“Our goal is not to be a solution for everyone’s growing needs, we are targeting quick-perishable, high-value crops. This approach allows us to position ourselves strategically for smaller farms in urban-core areas, northern communities where produce is expensive, and desert areas of the world that are inhospitable and need large-scale, flexible solutions.

We want to take a different approach with our product compared to others—we want the user interface to be extremely easy on the front end with a minimalist design, but complex and sophisticated on the back end so that we can eliminate the guesswork that’s usually involved in farming.

Lastly, we have sourced and designed everything with preventative maintenance in mind. With professional backgrounds in chemical automation in the geographically expansive market of Western Canada, we have learned those lessons—with very similar equipment—the hard way!” – Chad Fischl, FarmBoys Design Corp

Contact information:
FarmBoys Design Corp

- June 1, 2018


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