Welcome back to Producer Profiles!

Many of the world’s wonders are celebrated floating gardens, and we think the one in Osler is an amazing facility that the world should know about. It might not be covered in flowers (though they have some you can eat) but it’s absolutely full of produce, and we think that’s beautiful.

Owned and run by brother and sister team Chris and Rachel Buhler, Floating Gardens uses aquaponic and greenhouse growing to produce that rarest of wonders on the prairies: year round fresh vegetables. Their greenhouses are heated with wood diverted from the landfill, which is ground up and burned in a boiler that provides a cozy environment for plants year round.

Their aquaponic crops are grown soil-free, some using ground coconut shells and others that float on water.

“We like hydroponics because we can so precisely feed our plants that we can encourage more flavour – and we hope you taste that difference.” says Chris on their web site.

Even in an enclosed environment, bugs do sometimes get in. Floating Gardens uses insect release (other bugs that will eat the pests) as well as screens and traps to keep crawlers from making lunch out of their produce, and they also spray biological controls permitted under organic rules, such as good fungus and bacteria that keep pests at bay.

What’s growing at Floating Gardens? All kinds of crops flourish in greenhouses and aquaponics, but by far the most popular (and requested) items at Local & Fresh are the mini cucumbers and cocktail tomatoes. Both are picked fresh, shipped at their peak and ready to eat the minute you get your hands on them, and they are the best tasting cucumbers and tomatoes you will ever get out of a grocery bag. We also carry several varieties of lettuce, fresh herbs, and in general, whatever crop the Buhlers are trying, we’re buying! Look for eggplants to come back soon.

We visited Chris and Rachel recently on site at their operation, and you can take the video tour with us here, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.