Niagara Greenhouse Grows Flowers and Renewable Energy

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Golden Horseshoe is home to the majority of the province’s floriculture greenhouses, and like any robust sector, this brings with it great opportunity for growth and innovation.

Anaerobic Digester at Bayview Flowers

Bayview Flowers is among these inventive greenhouse operations in the Golden Horseshoe, growing potted plants and cut flowers throughout 340,000 square feet in Jordan, Ontario. Their wide range of plants and flowers are sold throughout North America to a variety of customers.

The Niagara greenhouse is also among a number of agricultural businesses embracing the biogas sector.

To Bayview Flowers, it’s important to operate “in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner.” As one initiative to fulfill this aim, Bayview installed an anaerobic digester system over 10 years ago, in 2007 — now among 40+ agri-food anaerobic digesters in Ontario.

An anaerobic digester converts organic materials—such as manure or food processing waste—into biogas, which can then be used for fuel. At Bayview, the heat produced is used in the greenhouse operation and electricity is sold to the electrical grid.

Bayview currently has the capacity for 4,000-6,000 tonnes per year of food waste, and their digester is producing 250kWh per hour, which is enough electricity for about 200 homes in a year! 

Furthermore, the waste product that then results from anaerobic digestion, called digestate, is nutrient-rich and can be sold commercially as potting soil or fertilizer.

Bayview has recently been certified as an organic fertilizer producer, registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for sale in Canada. They alone are generating 6,500 cubic meters of nutrient-rich fertilizer, which is enough for about 500 acres.

The anaerobic digestion process is re-using and re-purposing waste, which is reducing the amount of waste headed to our landfills, all while creating renewable energy.

Canadian Biogas Association graphic

“Biogas provides a closed loop opportunity for multiple businesses, extracting energy while recycling valuable nutrients,” explains the Canadian Biogas Association.

So it’s no surprise that the Province of Ontario is also beginning to recognize this propitious sector. Toward the end of 2019, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) launched consultations “designed to unlock the economic potential of the biogas industry,” as stated in this news release.

OMAFRA says the consultations will focus on changes to reduce red tape and grow untapped economic opportunities for on-farm biogas operations.

We can thank trailblazers like Bayview Flowers for leading the way with these technologies and demonstrating their immense benefits.

“We care about the world we live in and as such are developing business practices, while utilizing new technologies that help us reduce/re-use waste and create renewable energy,” Bayview Flower shares.

In addition to their Anaerobic Digester, Bayview also utilizes biological pest controls, a recycled watering system (95% of their irrigation is drawn from natural rain water), and solar energy (they have installed 1,200 solar panels).

Learn more on the Bayview Flowers website here, and read more about biogas from the Canadian Biogas Association.

To learn more about the province’s consultations on the biogas sector, visit the OMAFRA website here.