It’s been a demanding winter so far: multiple days below -20°C, biting winds, and plenty of snow. Yet we still have local greens, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. 'How?’ you might be wondering, ‘surely there’s been some sort of mistake.’
We get locally-grown kale from Schipper Farms, located near Bow Island, AB, and peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes from Gull Valley, located near Blackfalds, AB. Both farms operate hydroponic greenhouses that are able to operate year round because of assimilation lighting.
Levi Tiemstra of Gull Valley Greenhouse admitted that growing in the winter is certainly more challenging than in the summer, even with a greenhouse. He pointed out that grow lights are required due to significantly lessened daylight during the winter months. Without the added lighting, tomato plants would have a very difficult time flowering and producing fruit. At Schipper Farms, Dee Schipper said that even with assimilation lighting, kale just seems to grow slower during the winter.