While a love of local has come to define BC culture, not all British Columbians can fully embrace the locavore movement. With limited sunlight in northern regions and lack of farmland in urban centers, many BC producers struggle to meet the growing demand for fresh, local food year round.

Eager to fill the gap and help growers reduce greenhouse-related energy costs, QuantoTech Solutions Ltd. undertook a project to develop energy-saving LED fixtures that would enable year-long local production.

Unlike existing LED models developed primarily for large commercial greenhouses, QuantoTech wanted to serve the significant number of local, northern and emerging BC growers needing more tailored designs. Two years later, these growers now have the ability to achieve higher yields using half the electricity as conventional lighting!

“By using next generation LED lighting technology, growers of leafy greens, micro-greens and culinary herbs can reduce their energy requirements for production by 30-40 percent and increase yields by up to 25 percent,” explains QuantoTech founder, Alycia van der Gracht, adding the new technology also decreases production time.

Growers like Aaron Quesnel have witnessed the benefits of the new technology firsthand.

While Quesnel had previously experimented with LED lighting at Sky Harvest, his East Vancouver greenhouse, he was forced to revert to fluorescent tube lighting when the quality of his produce declined. As a project participant however, he discovered the QuantoTech Q200 LED light panel was the perfect fit for Sky Harvest.

“This is the only LED light that has been able to grow a variety of crops with the same quality my customers have come to expect,” says Quesnel, who is working on deploying additional units.

Van der Gracht expects more growers will follow suit as they learn the abundant benefits LED technology offers, particularly in the north.

“Northern conditions used to mean the growing season was limited to a single summer when there was adequate light, with residents often relying on imported produce the rest of the year,” says van der Gracht. “Now communities can access year-round local crops and growers can potentially maximize outputs with reduced input costs.”

The Quantotech team is now focused on a new partnership with the College of New Caledonia to help facilitate technology adoption in northern communities.

Funding: $35,397 provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (INN189)