greenshaus, inc. (aka the Thursday Lettuce Place) - theHumm April 2020

greenshaus, inc. (aka the Thursday Lettuce Place) - theHumm April 2020

By David Hinks

“Not bad for a guy that knows nothing about growing.”

I am standing in the midst of hundreds of gorgeous heads of buttercrunch and romaine lettuce chatting with a very modest Rob Lyle. Rob is the owner of a modern looking high-tech greenhouse on the north side of March Road east of Almonte, just a stone’s throw from the border with Ottawa.

Rob is a relative newcomer to the world of horticulture, having worked in the banking system as an investment manager for 27 years. He lost interest in that career, decided that voluntary retirement was not a goal for him, and so launched himself down a new path.His new career was shaped in part by a family-owned acreage of land where the greenhouse stands. The 15-acre piece of land is zoned for a number of rural agricultural uses including garden centre, abattoir and greenhouses. He notes, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek, that he had no interest in opening another garden centre as there are already too many great ones in the area and that he couldn’t really become passionate about an abattoir, so that left greenhouses.

But his choice of a second career is really about much more than finding something to do with a piece of land he happened to own. Rob is very concerned about food security and strongly believes that we need to do much more. He notes that the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates why local food production is critical to our long-term survival. He sees it as a chicken and egg situation: for change to happen, consumers have to change their buying habits and producers have to embrace new technology. 

Results of his initial research were discouraging, as greenhouses in climates like ours are huge energy users with a very high carbon footprint. This led him to look further, and fortuitously he stumbled across a book called the The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse. He saw an opportunity to try something entirely different than anything else he had seen in his greenhouse research.

greenshaus inc. was founded in 2018 for the purpose of promoting innovative sustainable agricultural practices through the use of technically innovative, low carbon footprint, passive solar commercial greenhouses. He chose greenhouses designed and supplied by Ceres Greenhouse Solutions.

The name greenshaus is a nod to the German engineering of the structure as well as to Bauhaus principles where utility comes first. The shape and materials used to construct the greenhouse are simple and functional. The basic building is steel frame construction clad in insulated steel panels on the east, west, and north walls. Insulated steel panels are also used on the north roof, combined with triple glaze polycarbonate panels on the south roof and wall. The shape and orientation of the greenhouse maximizes the collection of light and heat to allow year-round use in cold climates. It is also robust enough to deal with snow loads and arctic winds.

The manufacturer of the greenhouse, Ceres Greenhouse Solutions, believes that they have found a solution for producing greenhouse crops in a climate such as ours that is economically viable. They criticize traditional greenhouses as having excess glazing materials that allow heat to escape faster, making a greenhouse inefficient and expensive to heat if you live in a colder climate.

Ceres has created a design that harvests the sun’s energy and retains it with insulated north, west and east solid end walls. The east-west orientation allows for sunlight to enter the greenhouse through the south-facing roof and reflect back onto the plants after bouncing off the north wall. They find light levels up to 100% greater inside their greenhouse than outside in the winter. The insulated walls work to retain thermal energy inside, lowering heating costs. The ground-to-air heat transfer system provides year-round climate control by utilizing the volume of soil underground as thermal mass to help regulate internal temperatures. The need for supplemental heating is still being assessed.

Construction of the 2,000-square-foot Almonte greenhouse finished in August of last year and Rob is currently producing 500-700 heads of lettuce a week. Depending on the crop he feels could boost that to 1512 per week all year round. He has also been experimenting with arugula, basil and assorted mustard greens. The lettuce that he grows arrives on the shelves of local grocery stores, or is plated at a local restaurant, the same day it’s picked.

It is a small operation and Rob is very much hands-on. He is assisted by a retired educator and her husband as well as a part-time salesperson.

Local food banks have been beneficiaries of early production. Rob is currently producing more than he is selling. Production has been in prototype mode so marketing has been minimal, but this is in transition — marketing activity is now happening in earnest as the new salesperson has come on board.

Production is hydroponic using nutrient film technology designed by AmHydro in California, and biocontrol methods such as ladybugs are used to control aphids. Rob observes that the only real production issues so far are due to their lack of experience as growers. He opines that: “the plants seem to know what to do — we just have to learn more about helping them be the best they can be — just like being a parent”.

As of the time of writing the greenhouse is open to customers on Thursdays. Rob advises that he will restrict access beginning in April to avoid pests that can be carried in on clothing during the summer months. He suggests that we stay tuned to his Facebook page as to how he will continue to serve the local community.

What does the future hold? Rob and his team are still learning to work with the present model in what is really a prototype. The first seeds were just planted on August 26 and they have not been through a full year’s growing season. When he feels comfortable with the prototype, he would like to build more of the greenhouses all across Canada.

Rob believes, from his experience to date, that the model is economically viable. The greenhouse operates as expected to this point. He believes that the key is to partner with others who think that locally grown food produced in a sustainable way will change the way we distribute produce, and help to ensure food security for all of us.

 

Re-purposing Your Gifts: from Costume Designer to Mask Maker - theHumm April 2020

By Kris Riendeau

In an article entitled “Covid-19 Cannot Harm Your Gifts!”, Bruce Anderson of the Core Gift Institute coregift.org writes: “…what is undeniable is that you have come into this world with gifts, and you will leave this world with those gifts, having given them along the way. Gifts form an essential part of our passion and purpose, and give us a lifetime of opportunity for finding our true identify and offering who we are to the world.“But, in times o......

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Humming On in Uncertain Times - theHumm April 2020

By Kris and Rob Riendeau

Welcome to the first-ever online-only issue of theHumm. Back in mid-March as we were starting to put this issue together, we began to get emails from event organizers. They were watching the developing situation worldwide and locally, and were letting us know that they might have to cancel or postpone their events. It’s hard to believe that that was only three weeks ago. As a publication whose mission is to connect people through promoting community events, we made the difficult decision to not publis......

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Supporting Canadian Authors, Bookstores and Publishers in Precarious Times - theHumm April 2020

By John Pigeau

In her profoundly moving memoir “This Is Happy”, Camilla Gibb wrote: “We are the storytelling animal; our stories are what make us human.” Indeed. Books bring us solace and pleasure in difficult times. Some help us escape to exotic and faraway lands, while others generously introduce us to different cultures. Books rinse our minds of the mundane, offering us instead adventure and intrigue, beauty and laughter, and meaningful insights too.

Books remind us, even in the best of times, th......

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Reflections on Public Library Closures During COVID-19 - theHumm April 2020

By Meriah Caswell

The Carleton Place Public Library closed its doors to the public at 5:30pm on Friday, March 13, without knowing when they would reopen.

The previous day I had been naively trying to convince my staff and colleagues that with increased sanitation measures and enforced social distancing, libraries could remain open to serve our communities.

When I received the news that the library would have to close, there was an immediate whirlwind of activity. Library staff franti......

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In-Between Days - theHumm April 2020

By Angie Arendt

Not long ago I was curled up on the couch in the livingroom with a copy of “Discover Canada” in hand, asking and answering questions Jeopardy-style while studying for my upcoming citizenship test. Who is Sir John A. MacDonald? What is the Order of Canada? What is July 1, 1867? I’m an out-loud processor, much to the delight (and chagrin) of everyone in the house.

So Canada has been on my mind for a while now, the excitement building about replacing my permanent residence card with a passport one d......

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Just a Bunch of Country Kids! - theHumm April 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Okay parents, here we are in April after an extended three-week March Break. We now understand that this was just a training camp for our new homeschooling reality, to keep our kids and communities safe. All I have to say is, let’s thank the heavens we’re in the Valley, so we can “go country”!

Now, what does that mean? Getting back to our farming roots with our kids of course! Our family has taken this a little far and are renovating our neighbours’ old bunny hutch into a fancy new chicken coop......

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Call Your Neighbour: Building Communities in Difficult Times - theHumm April 2020

By Jeff Mills

Remember the ice storm? We all have our stories, don’t we? Neighbours helping neighbours in every way possible. I remember driving a neighbour to my parent’s house so she could shower. We in the country were without power, so no pump and no hot water. My parents were in town, and but for one short interruption of power, they really weren’t affected. Although this weather event was a time of great inconvenience for some, those days of neighbours getting closer and helping neighbours are now seen as a period of great community building. We all have our stories. It almost sounds romantic in ......

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The Power of Tech Shabbats - theHumm April 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Back when COVID-19 was just a gleam on the social media horizon, Rob and I listened to an intriguing podcast while delivering the February issue of theHumm. Presented by The Long Now Foundation, it featured author and life-long techie Tiffany Shlain talking about her new book “24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week” blog.longnow.org/02020/02/03/podcast-24-6-th......

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Stand and Listen - theHumm April 2020

By Glenda Jones

We call our oldest Sheltie “Miss Clockhead”. At precisely 6:35am she starts making little squeaky noises that indicate she is ready to start her day, and we should be as well. The other two are still sound asleep when Bonnie starts this morning ritual. If the squeaks don’t get our attention, she will chase her tail until she falls over. We were looking forward to the time change, thinking naively that we’d get an extra hour of sleep since it would still be relatively dark. ......

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Local Residents Roll Up their Sleeves on Climate Action - theHumm April 2020

Back in early March, over 100 Lanark residents attended a day-long workshop to plan deep climate action for our community. This Climate Action Where We Live workshop was organized by the Climate Action Network.

“We originally booked a hall that would hold 60, but within days of opening up registration we were at 80 and so had to find another venue,” says Gord Harrison, one of the event organizers. “We finally capped the numbers at 115, with a waiting list… It’s very hearteni......

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The Music Will Keep Playing - theHumm April 2020

By Tony Stuart

These are definitely interesting, challenging, and frightening times. I don’t think anyone expected to see society shut down the way it has. This shutdown is having profound implications for all of us, and I hope that all of you who are reading this are able to stay healthy and keep your spirits up.

Obviously, I have been particularly aware of how social distancing and self-isolation has affected musicians. We have seen all of our gigs completely dry up, with no end in immediate sig......

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Updates from Area Museums - theHumm April 2020

By Jennifer Irwin and Michael RikleyLancaster

Most years, local museums begin fundraising in earnest with the return of spring. This year they are having to cancel or postpone events and close their doors, so they are reaching out to patrons and community members for support. Here are some updates that were sent in response to theHumm’s recent query.

The Carleton Place & Beckwith Historical Society and the Museum are thankful for the ongoing support of The Town of Carleton Place and of Beckwith Township; however, March and April are traditio......

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greenshaus, inc. (aka the Thursday Lettuce Place) - theHumm April 2020

By David Hinks

“Not bad for a guy that knows nothing about growing.”

I am standing in the midst of hundreds of gorgeous heads of buttercrunch and romaine lettuce chatting with a very modest Rob Lyle. Rob is the owner of a modern looking high-tech greenhouse on the north side of March Road east of Almonte, just a stone’s throw from the border with Ottawa.

Rob is a relative newcomer to the world of horticulture, having worked in the banking system as an investment manager for 27 years. He lost interest in tha......

...more

Mandatory Mindfulness! - theHumm April 2020

By Helen Antebi

To quell COVID-19 and do our part to support health care workers, not to mention our families, friends and our communities, there is one skill we must acquire if we have not already.

The skill or art (depending on your approach), of mindfulness has been “trending” now for some time. Maybe there was a reason. Virtually overnight we have had to become acutely aware of our environments, the contact — or rather the distance — we have from others, the way ......

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Art… and Soul… and Social Distancing… and Advice on How to Cope from Valley Artist Valerie Fulford - theHumm April 2020

By Sally Hansen

Over twenty years ago theHumm appeared on the scene to promote the arts in the Ottawa Valley. April 2020 is our first non-appearance on your newsstands and at your local businesses and libraries since then. We, like the artists and arts-related businesses and events we publicize, are struggling to survive in the short term and to figure out how to revive and thrive in the future.

These are extremely challenging times. Humans dislike uncertainty and right now there are more than 7.7 billion pe......

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Time for Takeout! - theHumm April 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Weetabix has long been of the view that food matters are well within the editorial mandate of theHumm (food combines art, entertainment and ideas!), but there is a key difference which is one of urgency. The famous aphorism of Rene Descartes “I think therefore I am” should perhaps be restated to “I eat therefore I am” since clearly if one does not eat, soon one is not. On the contrary side we have all experienced too many examples of those who do not think and yet clearly, they are. COVID-19 pres......

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theHumm in print April 2020 (pdf)

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