Mohamed Hage, a self-described “technology geek” turned farmer extraordinaire, is reinventing food production. He’s the president and founder of Lufa Farms, the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse farm—an organic one at that—in an industrial district in the northeast of Montreal. Lufa has a second rooftop farm in the city’s western suburbs and a third one is planned for Boston.
Hage’s inspiration came from his childhood village in Lebanon, where he says everyone farmed without the use of pesticides, and from his grandmother, who put nine of her kids through university by farming organically. Hage says that since the Green Revolution—and the transition to using pesticides—farming in his village has been transformed: monocultures grow where there used to be mixed farming, and pesticides have replaced traditional techniques of pest management. Farmers now use imported labour, sell their produce to food terminals and struggle to make a living. When Hage came to Canada he wanted to find some technological way to address the challenges his family was facing back home.