There has been lots of interest throughout the NWT in increasing local food production to bring healthy fresh produce and economic development opportunities to our communities. Fresh produce consumed in the Northwest Territories (NWT) comes from farms as far south as Columbia in the winter months, taking an average of 10 days to make it from the field to Yellowknife, where it is then further distributed around the territory. These distances and travel times increase the cost of fruits and vegetables while decreasing the quality. The NWT CanGrow Greenhouse Feasibility Study explored how commercial greenhouses could be used to improve access to fresh produce in NWT communities. This project was supported by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the National Science and Engineering Research Council.
NWT CanGrow Greenhouse Technology Workshop:
The aim of the workshop was to connect leading experts in the field of greenhouse technology from all across Canada with growers in the NWT. The eleven expert invitees were academics from a wide variety of disciplines and business representatives from companies offering innovative growing solutions. Over the two days of the workshop, experts and NWT growers presented ideas, discussed the unique challenges of cold-climate growing, and considered possible solutions.
A key component of the workshop was the Greenhouse ResearchHack. Inspired by hackathon events that are popular in the software development world, the ResearchHack was a competition designed to encourage participants to develop research partnerships that address grower-identified challenges. Participants were given a set of problems and asked to develop a solution in the form of a research proposal. A panel of judges reviewed the proposals to determine which held the most promise. Mark Lefsrud and his Food CING (Canadian Integrated Northern Greenhouse) won the Hack - his prototype is a shipping container provides flexible, highly efficient growing space with the potential to be used year-round.
The workshop report is available here.
NWT CanGrow Greenhouse Feasibility Guide:
In order to support NWT growers who may be considering commercial greenhouse operations, ARI developed a fillable guide to conducting a feasibility assessment. Growers can use this document to explore the factors that will impact the success of a prospective greenhouse. The guide includes a community readiness assessment that helps growers assess local resources, produce demand and overall community readiness for a commercial greenhouse, a greenhouse design guide that helps growers plan a greenhouse according to local needs and conditions, and a guide to costs and revenue that helps growers anticipate costs and adjust inputs to result in a feasible greenhouse operation.
The fillable guide is available here.
NWT CanGrow Greenhouse Knowledge Repository:
Gathering information on greenhouses from around the north is vital in helping the growing the knowledge base. ARI has created a map that includes information on NWT growers and provides opportunities for growers to share information.
This map-based tool is available here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1XOrpER2RBiv2zSgZz7Q0dUWMCcc
We encourage northern growers to contact us with more information of their operations to we can add to the knowledge repository. You can contact us at JDutton@auroracollege.nt.ca if you wish to update the map.
NWT CanGrow Feasibility Studies: Norman Wells and Inuvik
ARI carried out feasibility studies in Norman Wells and Inuvik to assess the local conditions, propose a greenhouse design and assess the feasibilty of a commercial greenhouse operration in those communities.