Greenhouse Production and Vertical Farming Webinars For Northern Ontario


As technology becomes available, new crops and production methods are expanding opportunities in Northern Ontario.

Register for the Greenhouse Production and Vertical Farming Webinars and learn from the experts about some of the key considerations when starting a project. Municipalities play a key role in determining how and where production activities occur. By attending these webinars, municipal staff, elected officials, businesses, and community organizers will gain an understanding of key aspects of growing under cover, including:

  • New technologies
  • Advantages and limitations
  • Lessons learned from people working in this sector

Greenhouse Production Workshop – Thursday, May 6, 2021

New technologies, the demand for more locally grown food and the introduction of new crops, are creating exciting opportunities for those interested in farming indoors.

Greenhouses from A to Z: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST

Description: This opening session will feature ​Dr. Fadi Al-Daoud, an OMAFRA Greenhouse Vegetable Specialist, who will provide a general introduction to the greenhouse sector. From general information about what grows in greenhouses, production potential and seasonality, to what technology is widely used and what is most appropriate for northern climates. Attendees will learn where sector growth is occurring, and what advancements are on the horizon.

From Concept to Implementation: 1:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. EST

Description: As with any new venture, starting a greenhouse takes a lot of planning. Niki Bennett from Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) will explain OGVG’s role in supporting the greenhouse sector and what opportunities for growth are unique to Northern Ontario. DSBC Global will speak to feasibility studies and some of the key considerations when developing a project, such as access to utilities, site selection, labour, start-up costs and equipment.

John O’Neill and Vicki Hilborn from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will look at how greenhouses intersect with key policies and regulations, including the Provincial Policy Statement, local land use planning documents, nutrient management regulations and the Building Code. Attendees will also learn about opportunities for further developing a project, honing their growing skills, and funding supports for getting a project off the ground.


  • ​Niki Bennett, Science Coordinator, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
  • DSBC Global
  • John O’Neill, Rural Planner, OMAFRA
  • Vicki Hilborn, Engineer Program Coordinator, OMAFRA
  • Dr. Fadi-Al-Daoud, Greenhouse Vegetable Specialist, OMAFRA
  • Kendal Donahue, Agriculture Development Advisor, OMAFRA

Practitioners Panel: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST

Greenhouses are as unique as the people and goals behind them. Join four practitioners in the field to learn about different greenhouse models in northern Ontario. Hear from Manon Cyr of La Maison Verte in Hearst about how they transitioned a tree nursery into a greenhouse that grows vegetables and their focus on providing employment opportunities for women.

Jessica Laidely of the United Way Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma District’s Harvest Algoma Food Resource Centre will speak to the organization’s experience developing a greenhouse project in an urban area as part of the organization’s mission to tackle food insecurity.

Henriet DeBruin of DeBruin’s Greenhouses will share their story and how they evolved from a small greenhouse in 1991 to a 17,000 square foot greenhouse growing vegetables and herbs for the local market today.

Jean and Kathy Génier – owners of JK Gardens – run both a market garden and greenhouse where they grow a variety of fruits and vegetables that are available seasonally. Jean and Kathy will speak to the main challenges, benefits and lessons learned from incorporating a greenhouse into their business model.

Vertical Farming Workshop – Thursday, May 13, 2021

There is a growing interest in vertical farming in Canada. While vertical farming technologies are still relatively new, many companies in Ontario and across Canada are using the technology as part of private ventures to grow fresh vegetables and herbs for their local market. Vertical farming can also play a role in food security initiatives by increasing access to healthy, fresh foods.

Let’s Start at the Beginning: What is Vertical Farming? 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST

Description: This opening session will provide a general introduction to vertical farming. It will explore what technology is most widely used, where sector growth is occurring, and what sort of advancements are on the horizon. It will also cover common points of interest to people new to vertical agriculture, such as what can be grown in vertical farms, production potential, and key inputs.


  • Dr. Fadi Al-Daoud, Greenhouse Vegetable Specialist, OMAFRA

Let’s Grow Up! Vertical Farming Panel: 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. EST

Description: If you’re looking to be inspired about what the future of vertical farming holds, you’re in the right place. Zip Grow – one of the fastest-growing vertical farming companies in Canada will give a presentation on their vertical farming operation, the research and development their leading, as well as the tower technology they’re selling across the globe. Sarah Pardy, Project Manager with Wesley, will share their experience starting a vertical farm in Hamilton, Ontario, as a strategy to improve community food security.

Mike Bellamy and Kevin Narraway will add to the session by sharing their vision for a public-private partnership that involves establishing a hub of education, research and training in vertical agriculture.


  • Zip Grow
  • Sarah Pardy, Project Manager, Wesley
  • Mike Bellamy, President and Co-Founder of Frontier Labs Inc. and Kevin Narraway, Manager of Marketing and Tourism for the Municipality of Port Hope

Lettuce Hear from Some Other Innovators in the Field: 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. EST

Description: Vertical Farming is already a reality in Northern Ontario, and even further north. Learn about the work spearheaded by the Artic Research Foundation in Nunavut to develop a vertical farm designed to run on renewable energy. Nick Halverson will share his experience working for Growcer, which is a for-profit social enterprise that builds custom vertical farm structures. Nick will talk about some of the projects Growcer has helped facilitate, which includes vertical farms that are part of schools, social enterprises, and First Nations communities.

You’ll not want to miss the presentation from Boréalis Fresh Farms, which is a vertical hydroponic modular farm that grows produce year-round. Their mission is to increase food security in a sustainable way, help reduce overall food miles, and reduce dependency on out-of-region produce by increasing local production of fresh produce.


  • Artic Research Foundation, Nunavut
  • Nick Halverson, Growcer
  • Boréalis Fresh Farms, Timmins

This two-part webinar is presented by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and sponsored by:


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