Inuvik community greenhouse hydroponics unit arrives

Lovers of leafy greens will soon have another option for fiber as Inuvik Community Greenhouse has acquired a long-awaited heated hydroponics container.

Years in development and sporting the artwork of greenhouse employee Adi Scott, the re-purposed trailer is visible on the way into town. Community Garden Society of Inuvik executive director Ray Solotki said the facility, developed by ColdAcre Food Systems would be up and running within two weeks.

“We’re going to grow herbs, lettuces,” she said. “We’ll do pak choi, we’ll do kale and swiss chard. You’ll get enough variety, but you’re still getting about a pound of greens for $20. I think it was mostly a case of right time, right place,” said Scott. “It was a piece of artwork that I had already made-up for fun. All I had to do was edit it to be the right size for the unit, which was very serendipitous.”

Solotki said the new hydroponics unit will be able to produce between 500 to 1,000 pounds of greens a month. Crops will be available through Northmart. They also will be part of greenhouses’ annual ‘veggie box’ program, now available all year long. Boxes will cost $20 a week and are available to members.

Part of the project involves setting up an office next to the hydroponics unit. Eventually, food will be for sale out of that as well. Solotki said the Arts, Crafts, and Technology Micro-manufacturing Centre could even provide locally-sourced packaging.

Maintaining the hydroponics unit will take about 20 hours of work a week. Aside from keeping the water system topped up, keeping an eye on the progress of crops and ensuring the water is at the right pH balance, one task is of extreme importance over the summer: keeping insects out. “We’re working with the University of Saskatchewan to actually train people on how to use these facilities in the hopes that we’ll actually see small units in all of the communities in the north, if we can make them viable,” she said, adding she had more proposals in the works.

This is only the latest step. Next, Solotki said she wanted to pursue an aeroponics facility.

“Hydroponics focus on greens. Aeroponics can work on beans, peas, potatoes — you can grow a lot of things,” she said. “We want to expand on this containerized unit idea.

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