Vertical urban farm 'Ortaliza' opens Kingsville storefront
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A Kingsville farm is celebrating its grand opening Friday, but it’s not your typical, sprawling set-up.
Ortaliza is what’s called an urban vertical farm, growing microgreens right in the store — so you can watch your crop before it lands on your plate.
The new venture is the brainchild of Carina Biacchi and Alvaro Fernandes, who moved from Brazil to Canada five years ago, bringing with them a passion for entrepreneurship and farming.
“We’ve been dreaming and researching not only dreaming, but panning about this idea for years, doing research, travelling,” says Biacchi, who is the founder and CEO of the company.
On Friday, Mar. 19, that dream becomes reality — with the launch of Ortaliza, which is Spanish for vegetable garden.
“We fell in love with microgreens because they are such an easy way to eat healthy food,” Biacchi says. “They’re convenient, packed with nutrients, and you can use them, not only in a salad, but sometimes you want to enjoy yourself a little bit.”
The vertical urban farm has a main street location in Kingsville — where the fresh microgreens are grown right behind the sore counter.
“People are hearing about vertical farming, but they can’t see it. They are not being there. So we wanted to allow them to come and see what it is,” says Biacchi. “It is still a farm, yes, we’re more tech, more modern, but we wanted to give that feeling to people.”
Vertical Urban Farming — takes traditional farming techniques — but creates density in space.
Ortaliza’s store is only 850 square feet, but rows of stacked shelves utilize six times the space.
“For vertical farming, the sky’s the limit, literally, you can grow as tall as you want,” says Alvaro Fernandes, the company’s chief operating officer.
Much like a greenhouse, Fernandes says growing conditions are optimal — regardless of what’s happening outside.
“I fell in love with indoor agriculture because we have full control of what we do. We can control the lights, the wind, humidity, temperature, everything,” he says.
According to WE-Tech Alliance, which is assisting the business in the start-up process — urban vertical farming provides food security and sustainability, adding significant value to the food system.
Each shelf of microgreens at Ortaliza can feed 20 families, according to Fernandes.
The new business owners also believe the most important aspect of their operation is freshness — so they will only deliver and cater to people in Windsor-Essex.
“We want to be close to our consumers, we want to sell directly to our consumers, we are as urban as we can be,” says Biacchi.
Hand-watered and lit up 14 hours a day, the 25 varieties of micro-greens take 10 days to grow in Canadian Pete-moss and are harvested daily for in-store purchases and deliveries.
The couple hopes this Kingsville store is their first of many across the country but Fernandes promises they will stay true to the business model of by local, for local.
“We don’t want to lose our identity, our proximity to customers.”
You can learn more about the new store here.