From Compost

City of Vancouver Approves Urban Stream’s Latest Micro-farm

Though Urban Stream is leaning much more towards our composting technology these days, we have a microfarming project on the go with Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Rocky Mountain bought our Urban Microfarm container a little over a year ago. And a little less than a year ago, the City of Vancouver issued a stop work order on that project due to a neighbour’s complaint.

Despite the city issuing the stop work order, they were really eager to get us up and running. We worked closely with the city to get the unit up to the city’s code. Because the City of Vancouver had never seen a project like our Microfarm, so we had to work with them to figure out which building codes we have to abide by. Ultimately, we had to change the roof on the micro-farm, upgrade the electrical and seismically anchor the shipping container to ensure that if a big earthquake hits, the container won’t budge.

This week, after the container was inspected by the engineer and our friendly-neighbourhood building inspector, the retrofits were approved! We are so happy to have gotten to this point after almost a year of retrofitting and working with the city. Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company has been so wonderfully patient with us and the city, and we couldn’t be happier to have them as a flagship customer.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be outfitting the micro-farm with our second generation worm composter and Lifespace Projects’ self-watering planter boxes and in no time at all you’ll be able to enjoy Urban Stream’s fresh greens on Rocky Mountain’s delicious flatbread pizzas.

To learn more about how this all came about, listen to Urban Stream founder, Nick Hermes, on CBC’s The Early Edition and Spark with Nora Young.

Urban Stream on CBC Spark

Urban Stream founder, Nick Hermes, is being interviewed on CBC Spark today! You can tune in to hear Nick talk about the slightly new direction Urban Stream is taking and how our composting techology can help your restaurant, business or institution. Nick talk’s to Nora Young about Vancouver’s organics ban, which came into place in January 2015. The city has given everyone until July 2015, to comply with the new bylaw. Have a listen, to find out what this means for Urban Stream!


The Zero-Mile Diet starts here in Vancouver with Urban Stream’s Official Launch

Media Advisory

What: Urban Stream launches first commercial scale micro-farm, self contained year-round sustainable urban farming and organics diversion technology

When: Invitation only

Where: Luke’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, 2996 Granville St. (Granville and 14th)

For more information contact Wes Regan, or 604-805-3591.

Urban Stream is a food systems technology start up that since 2009 has been developing a suite of technologies and services to help Vancouver’s food system become the most sustainable and resilient one in the world. This February will be the launch of the company’s first fully functioning commercial scale unit housed behind Luke’s Corner Bar and Kitchen on South Granville.

Urban Stream’s Micro-Farm is filling a major gap in urban food system infrastructure by offering a district scale solution for food scraps diversion and safe, clean, sustainable year-round organic food production. The technology employs classic organic agriculture practices but arranges them in a condensed system ideally suited for urban or remote environments. Often referred to as bio-mimicry, this type of system replicates the natural process of nutrient extraction and exchange that traditional organic farms have relied on for thousands of years through a novel network of vermiculture and hydroponics all within a re-purposed shipping container. With new bylaws coming into effect in 2015 requiring commercial properties like restaurants to divert up to 80% of their organic food scraps waste away from landfills Urban Stream’s timing is perfect. Luke’s is the first restaurant to house one of these units and after the demonstration a brief catered reception will be held inside.

If you are interested in knowing more about this event or Urban Stream in general please contact:



Micro-farm build at Luke’s

Within 24 hours of getting the roof finished and the insulation installed, we got our first snow load test! Luckily, it passed with flying colours!

Luke's Corner- Micro-farm surprise snow test

With the system mostly built, we installed a few fluorescent grow lights to supplement the grey days of winter in Vancouver. Then we started our first crop of arugula.

Luke's Corner- Micro-farm almost done and crops planted

We started with arugula because Luke’s uses it on their delicious heritage burgers and it is also extremely cold-tolerant and we we didn’t have hot compost yet!

Luke's Corner- Micro-farm first crop germinates

Before starting to compost, we installed a biofilter that we designed for odour control. All exhaust that leaves the compost passes through our packed-bed biofilter comprised of finished compost, gravel, wood pellets and a layer of zeolite provided by Effective Environmental Solution Ltd.

Luke's Corner- Micro-farm biofilter for odour control

Once the biofilter and entire ventilation system was built, we started collecting our first organics for composting. To ensure we attained a healthy thermophilic (heat-loving) microbial population, I decided to use three different inoculants: a store-bought compost accelerator, a sample of finished compost that we brought in for our home garden, and a sample from the soil delivered by GardenPod that arrived steaming. Combined with the food waste and paper towels that Luke’s diverted from their waste, our reactor heated up extremely fast, reaching  65° C after about 36 hours.

Luke's Corner- Micro-farm HOT compost!

After the first week of composting, we ordered some red worms to populate the second stage of our HNR bioreactor.  They needed to eat so we started moving material from the first stage to the worms bins. We got our worms from Earthworks Composting Supplies, they ship quickly and in breathable bags so the worms are lively when they arrive.

Luke's Corner- Micro-farm worms arrive!