This traditional family farm, gourmet market, and apple orchard use modern technology to fight climate change.
Looking out over Algoma Orchards in Newcastle, Ontario, you might not immediately notice all of the technological advances at play. But once you look closer, you’ll see that, in addition to approximately 1,500 acres of apple trees and a charming gourmet market that sells fresh produce, local foods, and baked goods, the orchard is home to one of the largest solar roofs in the province and has an innovative rainwater recycling system.
Algoma Orchards is operated by owner Kirk Kemp and his two sons, Eric and Byron Kemp. The family is committed to fostering a sustainable future for all Canadians and has spent years reducing their environmental impact on the farm. Instead of using overhead irrigation throughout the orchard, Algoma uses drip lines that place water right onto the soil so an apple tree can fully absorb it. This significantly reduces the amount of water used in caring for so many apple trees while minimizing wasteful evaporation. “My boys are fourth generation farmers,” says Kemp. “We try to do the most sustainable farming we can. We grow some organic apples and we also have a very sustainable packing plant.”
Algoma Orchards has also been using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system for more than 30 years, reducing the risk from pests and pest management tools in a way that minimizes overall economic, health and environmental risks on
“A sustainability report showed that we have enough features to offset the carbon of 500 cars that drive all year long,” Kirk says, noting that they didn’t want to be dependent on hydroelectricity. The orchard is home to five large Tesla solar batteries that store energy produced by the farm’s rooftop solar panels, allowing the business to tap into this power as needed during peak grid times. Algoma Orchards was the first plant in Canada to be powered by Tesla batteries — a fact that Kemp remains proud of.
“We were also the first in Canada that we knew of to be recycling water [on a large scale],” Kemp says. Rainwater is collected on the plant’s roof in order to be carefully filtered and sanitized, then used for cleaning equipment and facilities on the property. The filtration system itself is also on-site, making it an efficient and low-waste process. Between 30,000 and 40,000 litres of water are recycled every single day.
As Canada’s largest apple grower with major wholesale customers across North America, Algoma Orchards is proud to be leading the way in quality and sustainability. They’re able to produce close to one million bushels of apples each year at around 40 pounds per bushel, all while prioritizing sustainable farming practices and working toward a healthier planet. Algoma Orchards may no longer be the only farm in Canada with eco-friendly features, but it will always be one of the first.