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By Sandra Phinney

Jackson Lore is pumped. A veteran strawberry grower of 33 years, Lore is about to embark on a pilot project growing strawberries in a 200 ft. long x 20 ft. wide aluminum tunnel with a plastic over-top, installed about one metre above the ground. He’ll be doing this at the Lore Strawberry Farm located on the Upper Clyde Road in Shelburne County.

It all started when Lore attended a workshop on climate, and the findings of a Climate Data study organized by CBDC Yarmouth, CBDC Shelburne and South Shore Opportunities CBDC. Results indicate there are pockets in Southwest Nova with similar heat to the Annapolis Valley, with comparable (if not superior) climate suitability for high value crops.

Lore says, “Not only do we have favourable micro climates in this region, it’s not as cold in the winter and we don’t get ocean effects or extremes.” However, the interior of Shelburne County has lousy soil conditions. “It’s taken me 20 years to clear six acres,” says the farmer. “That’s a lot of rock pickin’. And, with climate change, the land is getting wetter here. This leads to disease problems like black root rot.”

The solution to grow strawberries hydroponically in tunnels seems viable. Lore has selected a variety called Abion, “… the Honey Crisp of strawberries.” The growing medium will be coir (shredded coconut) and nutrients will be delivered via a trickle irrigation system. “We’ll be able to control the environment and should be able to harvest strawberries well into November.”

CBDC Shelburne and FarmWorks Investment Co-op have supported Lore from the start, and his application for funding through the 2015 Home Grown Success Program - Farm Innovation, was just accepted. So he’s also going to experiment with growing in vertical tunnels. “We may be able to grow three to four times the amount of plants using vertical tunnels. I’m really excited about all of this.”

So are strawberry lovers.