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With its avant-garde technology, Ferme d’Hiver (French for “winter farm”) is a company that stands out as a new off‑season agricultural model. It can be up to 13 times more productive per square metre than traditional greenhouses and can recover more than 80% of the energy it used to heat an adjacent greenhouse five times its size.

Hydropower: Feeding Québec in winter!

A remarkable innovation in the field of agriculture, vertical farms offer Quebecers the chance to enjoy locally produced fruits and vegetables all year long. Founded in 2018, Québec company Ferme d’Hiver has developed a technology that paves the way to food self‑sufficiency. The result? Québec strawberries on our plates in the middle of January. Hydro‑Québec’s experts supported the company in its efforts to use hydroelectricity to power innovation.

Heat recovery for maximum profit

Ferme d’Hiver is committed to ensuring the sustainable development of food resources while protecting the planet. Their mission reflects Hydro‑Québec’s own mission: to grow our economy and promote a greener Québec. Food self‑sufficiency will be key. The primary challenge to off‑season farming is ensuring profitability by lowering energy-related costs. Ferme d’Hiver was born of this challenge.

“It is a fully controlled space where winter strawberries are grown from October to June. We reproduce sunlight, rain and wind using innovative engineering systems. Thanks to perfect weather conditions, there is no need for chemical pesticides. As for pollination, it is taken care of by the meticulous work of bumblebees, just like in nature! By relying on vertical farming, Ferme d’Hiver maximizes available growing areas and increases production capacity for growers.”

— Yves Daoust, Founder and CTO of Ferme d’Hiver.
Ferme d’Hiver – Strawberry farming

Ferme d’Hiver designed a water‑cooled light‑emitting diode (LED) light and integrated it into the climate control system. This one‑of‑a‑kind technology has many advantages: it regulates temperature and humidity in a confined space and recovers the heat generated by lighting to heat adjacent spaces such as greenhouses, which are used to produce fruits and vegetables. In this way, Ferme d’Hiver makes particularly interesting efficiency gains.

The energy transferred from the Ferme d’Hiver to the greenhouse helps decrease the use of fossil fuels through the use of clean energy, thereby helping to reduce GHGs by 80%. Also, sharing the consumed energy with an adjacent structure generates higher returns, which stimulates the off-season, local production of fruits and vegetables.

Hydropower: Clean energy for off-season production

Access to clean, affordable energy allows Ferme d’Hiver to ensure the profitability of its controlled production. The energy consumed per kilo produced is 30% less than that of a traditional greenhouse. So much more is produced with less energy, making the use of clean, renewable energy all the more advantageous.

“Thanks to hydropower, Ferme d’Hiver can aim high. Having access to clean, affordable energy positions the company to expand throughout the region in cooperation with local growers, all while respecting the environment. Hydropower is truly driving the sustainable development of food resources in winter.”

— Yves Daoust, Founder and CTO of Ferme d’Hiver.

With the combined use of its high-performance system and affordable hydropower, Ferme d’Hiver benefits from the Additional Electricity Option for Photosynthetic Lighting or Space Heating to Raise Crops. By using a controlled lighting system to recreate essential weather conditions such as sunlight, the company can predict and manage when it needs electricity. It can therefore adjust its demand and avoid Hydro‑Québec’s peak periods during cold snaps without compromising its productivity.

A dedicated team and financial support

With resolve and drive, Hydro‑Québec’s experts were able to convince fruit and vegetable growers to join the effort. By analyzing the project and providing advice on energy‑efficiency, Hydro‑Québec has shown that simple, effective solutions can facilitate the energy transition of the greenhouse industry. The Ferme d’Hiver project in Vaudreuil benefited from financial assistance of close to half a million dollars under the Efficient Solutions Program and the Efficient Farming Products Program—a significant contribution to the profitability of the project as a whole.

Discussion Ferme d’Hiver

“The concept of Ferme d’Hiver stands out because of its efficiency and optimized electricity management, which leads to lower energy costs for off‑season food production and benefits local companies. Hydro‑Québec is proud to support Ferme d’Hiver, to contribute to Québec’s food self‑sufficiency and to support Québec food producers.”

— François Désautels, Commercial Delegate, Hydro‑Québec.

What does the future hold?

Ferme d’Hiver aims to set up several farms throughout the province in order to position Québec as the fruit and vegetable breadbasket of northeastern North America. The company is therefore using local resources to create a veritable agro-industrial hub and an export market. Backed by the Ferme d’Hiver/Hydro‑Québec team, Québec has what it needs to become a leader in off‑season food production!

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