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Gregg Curwin has worked in healthcare innovation industries for over two decades. The first part of his career he focused on reactive measures to health when he decided it was time to take a proactive approach to healthcare.
While flipping through a magazine, Curwin stumbled upon a photo from Japan of a plant under a light, and the wheels began to turn. With a long-standing passion for agriculture and having successfully owned and operated several businesses in the medical device and biologics industry in the Atlantic Canadian region, Curwin developed the idea for TruLeaf with a vision of enabling communities to grow the world’s healthiest food locally and sustainably.
In 2011, with the help of various partners including Innovacorp, ACOA, NRC, and the Perennia Innovation Centre, Curwin opened the first R&D facility for TruLeaf in Truro, Nova Scotia. The company then spent the next few years further refining its farming system, and fully understanding the economics of the indoor farming model.
The TruLeaf Smart Plant System® integrates proprietary innovations in equipment design, farm layout, and plant production formulas to produce clean, pesticide-free nutrient-rich leafy plants year-round in any climate.
In 2013, the company signed its first deal with a major national retailer to grow and sell packaged leafy greens in the marketplace. With that agreement, TruLeaf created a wholly owned subsidiary, GoodLeaf Farms, and began building its first commercial farm. The commercial farm was completed earlier this year, and sales of the leafy green products began in March.
Goodleaf Farms’ commercial farm uses a vertical farming model, which allows for more food to be produced in smaller spaces and closer in proximity to the consumer. The company’s 10,000 square foot facility produces about 200,000 pounds of greens annually – which would take almost a million square feet of outdoor land in Nova Scotia.
This is only the first step for the company, which hopes to expand its indoor farming technology to communities across Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and around the globe. Ultimately TruLeaf will develop farms in rural communities that have limited access to fresh produce.
Food security is becoming a major problem across Canada and not just in rural and remote communities. According to Mount Saint Vincent University’s Canada Research Chair in food security, Nova Scotia is among the worst in the country when it comes to food security, with only Nunavut at a higher rate. The paradox being that there is tremendous access to food; however, low-cost, fast food does not provide sustenance for a healthy life. TruLeaf is one of the first companies revolutionizing the way in which people around the world can ensure they are eating the most nutritious food available, grown locally, and priced economically.
Take for example that the average pound of California lettuce requires a whopping 160 liters of water. By combining that same water with collected rainwater and rigorous filtration, TruLeaf’s indoor farms can grow 80 pounds of leafy greens, demonstrating that indoor multi-level farming has moved from concept to reality.
“Our farm is extremely efficient in its use of resources, but more importantly, it creates access to clean healthy food for Atlantic Canadians. It is stimulating the local economy, challenging the status quo, and is working to improve food security in our region,” said Curwin.
Most recently, Curwin received the Clean50 award presented by the Delta Management Group for developing and scaling TruLeaf’s Smart Plant System®. The award recognizes individuals across Canada who have developed new technologies or instituted company-wide changes that create a positive net environmental impact from business operations.
“I was truly honoured to be nominated to receive this prestigious award from Delta Management Group,” said Curwin. “Our company has come a long way in taking an idea and building a strong business that is sustainable in every sense of the word.” With future growth plans that include expanding to Toronto, conducting feasibility studies for remote locations and biomedical plant trials, TruLeaf is leading the way in indoor farming and agriculture.
To learn more about TruLeaf visit truleaf.ca