Cultivating Innovation: Food and Agriculture Institute partners with Avery Farms for a sustainable future

  • October 3, 2023

An Okanagan farm focused on sustainability and innovation has teamed up with the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley to provide research opportunities and practicum placements for students.

Garry and Victoria Peters of the Avery Group are investors and business people with a keen interest in modern agriculture and sustainability.

They have recently launched Avery Farms, a 50,000 square-foot, purpose-built vertical farm in Okanagan Falls, BC, near Penticton. The farm is located in a business park that the Avery Group is developing. With their focus on innovative farming methods and the rapidly growing field of vertical farming, it seemed like a natural fit for the Avery Group to work with UFV’s Food and Agriculture Institute.

“We find ourselves in a unique position to enhance educational opportunities for UFV students. Beyond our financial contribution, we eagerly look forward to offering UFV students invaluable practicum opportunities at Avery Family Farms,” says Garry Peters. “We view our donation as an investment in the future of British Columbia families. By supporting UFV students’ education, advancing research, and providing hands-on experiences, we believe we are contributing to a food supply that is local, safe, sustainable, reliable, delicious, and accessible to all.

Peters is motivated by a deep-seated passion for agriculture and a commitment to addressing pressing issues in the food industry.

“Over the years, my wife Victoria and I have found ourselves drawn to the world of business and investments. It’s in our nature to be curious, to explore global issues, and to ponder their effects on Canada and our local community. For quite some time now, our interests have been centered on the pressing issue of climate change and its profound impact on food security, as well as broader topics related to agriculture, land use, water management, pesticides, and the role of technology in shaping the future of farming.”

During the pandemic, the Peters were particularly struck by the fragility of Canada’s food supply chain. Climate events like the 2021 British Columbia floods, which closed major highways for weeks and in some cases months, also have an impact on local food security.

“One key concern that captured our attention was the urgent need to reduce Canada’s heavy dependence on imported produce, particularly items like head lettuce sourced from markets in California,” Peters notes. “The increasing frequency of extreme weather events in those regions led to unpredictable supply chains and sky-high prices, leaving British Columbians with uncertainty on their dinner plates. Additionally, the sheer distance our food was traveling before reaching our tables raised questions about sustainability and carbon footprints.”

Peters has deep roots in the Okanagan and in agriculture in general.

“Our passion for these issues was further fueled by my family’s enduring legacy in farming, spanning over a century,” Peters says. “My ancestors tilled the fields in the South Okanagan and Alberta, instilling in me the core values of responsible food cultivation from an early age.

“While I may have grown up in the Lower Mainland, my summers were often spent in Penticton, a community where my mother, brother, daughter, and other family members still reside. It was here that I was exposed to farming at an early age, and where the principles of responsible food production were instilled in me. This upbringing has significantly shaped my perspective on food supply, food quality, and sustainability.”
At Avery Family Farms, tradition meets modernity.


In 2020, the Peters decided to invest in the future of farming, embarking on a multi-year research and development journey into vertical farming. This venture eventually led to the establishment of Avery Family Farms, and in the spring of 2023, construction was completed of a state-of-the-art, 50,000 square-foot vertical farm facility in Okanagan Falls.

“We are currently in the midst of a multi-month pilot growing phase, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the delicious head lettuce flourishing in our facility,” Peters says.  “The vision is crystal clear: we aim to grow food locally, sustainably, ethically, and deliciously, all year round. We aspire to create a resilient food system that ensures the well-being of our community.”

“At Avery Family Farms, we see ourselves as bridging the gap between artisanal farming values and cutting-edge precision growing technologies.” Peters says “We are revolutionizing Canada’s farm-to-fork food chain while simultaneously revitalizing a rural British Columbia community.”

And their values align with those of the University of the Fraser Valley.

“We recognize UFV as a quintessential Canadian post-secondary institution leading the way in education and research advancements in modern agriculture. Our commitment to supporting UFV stems from our belief that it plays a pivotal role in building the essential expertise and conducting the necessary research that will propel the agri-tech industry forward in British Columbia and Canada. UFV is a trusted advisor and a guiding voice for all levels of government in matters related to agriculture,” says Peters. “We eagerly anticipate UFV’s continued expansion of its focus on controlled-environment agriculture, ensuring that Canada has the expertise required to support the evolution of our farming practices. UFV is playing a pivotal role in this transformation by nurturing the talent essential to the Canadian agriculture industry and advancing our collective knowledge through its ground-breaking research.

Dr. Lenore Newman, Director of UFV’s Food and Agriculture Institute, notes that Avery Family Farms is investing in a vital future for modern agriculture.

“Vertical agriculture is a great opportunity for British Columbia,” Newman says. “The industry will create highly skilled jobs while improving our food security by producing high quality healthy food close to home year-round. Companies such as Avery Farms are leading the way in this exciting field, and we are excited to partner with them.”

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