By KRISTY O’LEARY | PIVOT Magazine Writer & Owner of Scout & Burrow
A revolution has begun in Montreal, a revolution, touching on one of our most basic human rights, Food. It’s a revolution which promises to change the way food is grown, delivered and consumed in Montreal and beyond. Leading the charge are two unique ventures: Provender and Lufa Farms.
We begin on the ground with Cai Rintoul, CEO of Provender. Provender is a company whose mission is to alter and improve how food supply chains function by connecting farmers with chefs through the use of web technology. Cai explained; “One of the most interesting challenges in the food space is delivery – Proximity to market. How food is distributed must change.” Provender.com is revolutionizing how food products are delivered by cutting out the middleman.
Their contribution to the revolution is two fold. On one hand, Provender.com is connecting local farmers and chefs to create relationships that support more efficient delivery of food products. On the other, they are opening a dialogue between producers and chefs, enabling knowledge transfer and food education. “We encourage relationship development among our users,” says Cai, “Our business looks a lot more like OK Cupid than Craig’s List.”
Provender promises to be a game changing company. Just shy of their first birthday Cai and the Provender team are already expanding into Vermont, Massachusetts and Ontario. I asked Cai about starting Provender’s revolution in Montreal and the province’s rich history of dissent, to which he replied. “We [Quebecers] have a different voice and Provender is on the right side of history.”
Now we look up to the rooftops. The food revolution is not just occupying plates and creating connections, it is altering the city itself. Lufa Farms is an urban agricultural company with two rooftop agricultural operations, in Montreal and Laval. They are changing how the cities look, feel, and eat.
Lufa Farms has coupled their innovative rooftop cultivation methods with a robust online marketplace where consumers can subscribe to their service. The marketplace offerings are seemingly limitless. Lufa is reaching out to local farmers and developing partnerships which will greatly expand the types of products offered to their customers. “Our goal is to increase our marketplace variety and deliver complete food offerings.” says Lauren Rathmell, Greenhouse Director at Lufa Farms.
Lufa Farms partners with dozens of Montreal businesses to offer basket subscribers a variety of locations at which they can pick up their food orders. Between their robust product offerings, smart basket subscription service and dozens of pick-up locations, Lufa is a consumers dream. And they have done all of this in three years.
Provender and Lufa Farms are revolutionizing how people grow, distribute and access food in order to address our most pressing food challenge; freshness. Provender is approaching the problem by disrupting commercial supply chains and creating space for relationships to develop between farms and chefs. Lufa Farms is using innovative urban rooftop cultivation methods to address the freshness challenge by increasing customer proximity to food in urban Montreal.
Montreal’s food revolution offers direct advantages to farmers, customers and businesses. More importantly, Provender and Lufa Farms are changing minds. As we alter how people consume, we are really altering how they see the world. Both of these companies are creating space for consumers and entrepreneurs to be the change.