Growing strawberries year-round in Canada? A Waterloo team is working on it

Flavourful Canadian strawberries that can be grown year-round – that’s the goal a team, including University of Waterloo scientists, are working toward.

It will see Waterloo researchers collaborate with colleagues at the University of McGill and Vertité, a hydroponic strawberry grower in Montreal, to refine Veritité’s indoor growing system to achieve sustainable, year-round strawberry production in Canada.

“We need to be intentional and creative in how we address food insecurity in Canada,” Trevor Charles, a University of Waterloo biology professor and the director of Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research, said.

Canada’s northern latitude and short growing season make it highly dependent on imports to satisfy the demand for fresh fruit throughout the year. In the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s most recent fruit industry report, Canada is one of the largest importers of strawberries globally. Strawberries were among the top three fruit imports by dollar value after grapes and bananas.

The project is part of the Homegrown Innovation Challenge, which is funded by the Weston Family Foundation. The Waterloo team is one of 15 across Canada to receive funding during the first phase of the competition.

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