A colleague recently sent me an article by National Geographic called “Can The Ocean Feed a Growing World” .  The article says that food production will need to double by 2050 to accommodate the world’s population, and that farming fish could be the answer.

But National Geographic isn’t the first organization to talk about the 2050 food crisis.  One of my favourite discussions on the topic is from former commodities trader Sara Menker’s talk at TEDGlobal 2017 .  She offers a simple description of the problem and who it will affect most.  Ms. Menker uses the word “structural” several times in her talk.  I think she uses the word to describe policy and industry reform, which is undeniably crucial, but from my perspective there’s another interpretation: literal growing structure.

HBI has seen a trend in agribusiness to move towards higher yield-per-square-foot facilities.  Really, it just makes sense.  Densifying your assets lowers facility costs and raises profits – an easy sell to stakeholders.  That’s why we’ve been championing high-density, vertical growing equipment for years, and established Bloom Vertical to support sustainable trends in agribusiness.  Vertical Growing is not a new idea but it’s become more popular with the imminent legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada.  This has given us a chance to test our systems against real facility needs.  The results surprised us.

Yes, growing vertical makes sense from a revenues perspective.  It’s also complicated.  Plants need lots of resources to thrive and moving to a vertical system means adapting existing processes to the new structure.  Here are some of the early questions we needed to address with our clients in agribusiness:

  • How do you attach resources to a vertical structure?
  • Can custom brackets be guaranteed for safety?
  • How do you protect lighting electronics from the water being distributed nearby?
  • How do you clean everything in case of disease?

Enter the Grower’s Rack, Canada’s most integrated growing system.

I’m not sure what the whole answer is to solving the 2050 food crisis, but I do know that HBI is doing our part.  Like Sara Menker said in her talk, “We can make a bold commitment to increasing yields – exponentially”.  Sometimes it starts right here at home.

Written by Janelle Sandboe, Strategic Storage Consultant with HBI/Bloom Vertical


Did you hear about the family that donated $1.5M with the Calgary Public Library to support free access to programming, or the dealership that donated $55,000 to the Humbolt Broncos families?  What about the dental hygienist who volunteered her skills … in Haiti?

There sure is a lot of good in Calgary.

And the people behind HBI make an effort to be good community members, too.  That’s why we consider ourselves privileged to support initiatives that embody our values of community and sustainability.  You might not know this about us, but one of our favourite champions is World-Record-Holder Frisby Rob, who tackles physical activity and bullying in schools.  We also offered temporary office space to our peers in Calgary that were displaced during the Floods.  And, we regularly engage with local post-secondary institutions through scholarships and bursaries, because the forward-thinking professionals of tomorrow often need support today.

Stay tuned for our next scholarship announcement later this month!

If you want to step up YOUR community involvement, here are 5 easy ways that your organization can give back:

  1. Know who your dollars are supporting when you choose to work with HBI.
  2. Save unwanted furniture or shelving from the landfill and donate it to a charity or NFP who needs it.  If you’re a charity or NFP, send us your wish list!
  3. Host a Pop-Up Pet Room in support of AARCS.
  4. Ask about what modern workspaces can do to meet their sustainability goals.
  5. Share what your organization does to support community and sustainability, and we will feature you on our blog!

In the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


If you work in a particular industry for a while, you start to think you’ve seen it all.  That’s certainly true for me.  I’ve seen racking tower 40 feet in the air to hold millions of volumes of books.  I’ve seen 250 bankers boxes fit into an 8’x8’ cage.  I’ve even seen Queen Victoria’s Underpants.  But I’ve never seen shelving help to commemorate thousands of women.

Walking With Our Sisters is a travelling commemorative art installation that is beautiful, spiritual, poignant, and private.  It’s being hosted at MRU’s Riddell Library until May 13th, 2018 and honours the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada and the United States.  To fully respect the art, a secluded space was created on the 4th floor using HBI’s movable library shelving as privacy screens.

One of the most amazing things about my industry, which is strategic space planning (ie: furniture and shelving), is that a little bit of forethought can bring so much adaptability to a space.  When Mount Royal University designed the New Riddell Library, I don’t think they had exactly this use in mind.  But they did design a lot of flexibility into their space by choosing products that could do more than what you first think of.  Simple things like choosing HBI’s mobile and modern-looking library shelving gave them the chance to do a lot more than store library books – without having to buy additional products.

This exhibit is worth experiencing.  I’m so glad that I had a chance to see it and consider the reality of what the art commemorates.  Since pictures of the exhibit are not allowed, I highly recommend you check it out yourself.  You can learn more about the project at walkingwithoursisters.ca and see the Riddell Library Case study here.

Written by Janelle Sandboe, Strategic Storage Consultant with HBI