In a normal school year, the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) uses The Growcer’s hydroponic growing system to grow greens for its dining hall and catering services. The unit helps to serve the 8,000 students that pass through its dining hall every day.
The Growcer unit on campus was born out of a partnership with the school’s food service provider Chartwells Canada. The unit was installed in August 2018.
But in 2020, it wasn’t a normal school year. In mid-March, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic sent students home and closed many operations on campus.
Maryann Moffitt, dietitian and food liaison officer at the University of Ottawa, said the University continued to use their Growcer unit to support the dining hall for the few students that were still on campus. However, the demand was nothing like it was before.
Moffitt, who continued to visit the Growcer unit to tend to the crops, would pick the greens in the morning and deliver them in the afternoon. “The shelter is just so thrilled,” Moffitt said. “Normally their salads are like a coleslaw, and this was a real treat for them to be able to offer a green salad and to offer something fresh.” Moffitt donated 100 to 250 heads of Monte Carlo romaine lettuce per week.
“It means a lot to them to be able to offer a really high quality product to their clientele because they don’t always have that option.”
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