In 2018 ZipGrow Inc. began a project to build a new ZipFarm™ in Cornwall, Ontario. Not only was there a need for a space with all the latest technology for training and education, there was also a big need for a vertical farm with focus on research and development. And so, one year ago this month, the Three Doors Down Farm was launched.
The name was born from the farm’s address – located three units away from the ZipGrow Inc. offices in Ontario. The space underwent a full renovation and a 1,000ft2 ZipFarm™ bundle was installed with a total of 310 ZipGrow™ Towers.
Three Doors Down is centred around growing, research and training. Our expert growers often host farmers who have recently purchased a ZipFarm™, as well as people who are generally interested in learning more about vertical hydroponic growing.
We often host school and community groups from around the region and it’s incredible seeing young children understand and appreciate the benefits of local food production and indoor farming. We love nurturing young people just as much as we do our plants!
Research and development, or R&D, is the main focus of this farm. We are continually reviewing and refreshing our recommended farm standard operating procedures to ensure our farmers are running as efficiently and profitably as possible.
We are currently part way through an extensive trial on the potential benefits of high density planting, supported by the National Research Council Canada’s IRAP program. While the results are not yet finalized, it’s a great example of how we can take some of the risk off our commercial farmers and provide them with data from trials we run ourselves.
The high density trial set out to investigate whether growing more plants per tower would result in a higher yield. While you might think the answer to that is obvious (surely more plants = more yield at harvest?), there are downsides to high density growing, including competition for light and overcrowding issues such as mildew and mold. The results, once finalized, will be shared with our growing community. To give you an early sneak peek, initial results indicate that benefits of growing seedlings in higher density than our regular recommended planting do not necessarily outweigh the cons. For one harvest crops the yield is high, however reoccurring harvests see issues that result in the ongoing harvest producing lower yields. Watch this space for more results in a few months!
Of course, all this growing does result in a lot of produce, and we also run a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Smart Greens is a sister company to ZipGrow Inc and is where our local community can access the lettuces, greens, herbs and microgreens we grow at Three Doors Down. You can learn more about our CSA program at www.SmartGreens.co.
We’re always open to suggestions from farmers about potential topics to undertake research into. So, if you have a suggestion for us, please send it through. Find out more about our ZipFarm™ system here.