UFV ag facility builds food security

UFV

MLA Laurie Throness, MLA John Martin, Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk and Craig Toews, executive director of campus planning at UFV, listen to Timothy D. Kendrick, president of BW Global Structures, during a construction tour
of the new greenhouse on Dec. 12 at UFV.

Serving as the training grounds for the region’s next crop of farmers, the new, state-of-theart barn and greenhouse at the University of the Fraser Valley’s (UFV) Chilliwack campus are seen as an investment in B.C.’s food security.

With the Agriculture Centre of Excellence slated for completion early next year, politicians, UFV faculty and agriculture students received a glimpse of what’s to come on a construction tour on Dec. 12.

“Food security is so important for British Columbians. We grow 40 per cent of our own food now, but we are susceptible to things that occur across the world, that could be a hurricane or otherwise or civil unrest,” Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk, told the Times. “Sixty per cent of our food grows. .. outside, we want to grow our food here.”

Virk said the centre is an investment in B.C.’s food security, as students will use the facilities to learn the best methods for raising livestock and crops under the guidance of industry professionals.

“You want to have that next generation to go back to the farm to produce food for all of us. So this is absolutely investing in students. This is going to be hands-on training they’re going to receive, the hands-on training that’s going to get them a job when they graduate.”

Virk was joined by Chilliwack-MLA Laurie Throness and Chilliwack MLA John Martin.

The centre, which is being built replace structures at UFV’s old on Yale Road, will be home the tallest, multi-peak greenhouse North America.

Hope Just under 12 metres in height, the 600-square-metre greenhouse is also the first in the world that can pressurize and depressurize each of it’s bays, allowing for remediation control.

“If one crop is running into trouble and you have to spray, you can depressurize that bay, or if you’ve got a bug infestation, you can isolate it and not lose everything,” said Timothy D. Kendrick, president of BW Global Structures, the company that designed the greenhouse.

The structure also has a polycarbonate covering that allows for 95 per cent light diffusion, which increases productivity.

“There was a tomato grower in Texas that went from a double polyhouse to an earlier generation of this and his general yield from year to year was up 20 to 30 per cent all grades and market grade went up over 60 per cent,” Kendrick said.

Other features include an ultrasonic misting system and built-in fall restraints.

The greenhouse will provide a controlled and focused environment for field and lab exercises as well as support research and projects required for undergraduate courses.

Neighbouring the greenhouse is a 783-square-metre demonstration barn that will simulate large scale operations and provide an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in animal husbandry.

“We’ve got a set up for chicken, for turkeys, for laying, we’re going to have automatic nests so it will be free-run,” said Paul Gumprich, head of the livestock department at UFV. “So they’ll be in the barn but the won’t get access to the outside.”

There will also be a swine barn, which will include farrowing crates, a nursery, and two grower rooms.

“It will be the most humane, up-todate equipment for hosting those animals,” Gumprich said.

Construction on the Agriculture Centre of Excellence at Canada Education Park began in July, after the $2.5 million project received a $1-million investment from the province.