Squamish Nation producing organic hothouse herbs

A chain of Vancouver-area organic food stores has inked an exclusive supply deal with Squamish Nation leaders investing in equipment to grow fresh herbs and basil indoors.

Choices Markets, which operates seven stores in the Vancouver area and one in Kelowna, said the partnership is “in line with our principles” to supply its communities with “natural: and organic foods.

“Thus far, The Squamish Nation has supplied us with impressive crops of fresh basil,” Choices CEO Mark Vickars said in a release Thursday by equipment supplier TerraSphere Systems. “Without a doubt, it’s a product we’re proud to carry at Choices Markets.”

TerraSphere, a Vancouver company, has sold the Squamish Nation 20 “growth carousels” which allow producers to use “natural means” to grow organic fruits and vegetables indoors.

A TerraSphere facility functions like a Ferris wheel carrying several rotating spheres, to simulate greenhouse production indoors. Vertical carousels of spheres hold rows of up to 328 plants perpendicular to an interior light source, and each plant is individually connected to a nutrient supply system.

The company said it relies on “clean technology to create ideal growing conditions for commercially desirable crops.”

The Squamish Nation, the descendants of the Coast Salish who traditionally lived in what’s now the Vancouver area, Gibson’s landing and the Squamish River watershed, “are involved in several multi-million dollar business ventures throughout the region and see the TerraSphere growth carousels as a unique agricultural opportunity,” TerraSphere said.

“TerraSphere provides a highly efficient, technologically innovative way to grow plants,” Chief Gibby Jacob said in TerraSphere’s release.

“It is a way to feed the people. For the Squamish Nation, becoming leaders at the forefront of technological innovation is something that we embrace and encourage for our young people, and future generations.”

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