A not-for-profit grocery cooperative in Muskoka is taking a unique approach to ease the burden of food insecurity by providing fresh produce year-round with a new hydroponic modular farm.
"We saw a lot of gaps in our food supply the past few years, and we really figured that we needed to take some local initiatives to help solve that gap in our system," said Kelli Ebbs, general manager of Muskoka North Good Food Co-op. The initiative has been in the works for two years, with the focus now on producing. The modular hydroponic farm can grow over 500 heads of lettuce weekly and has a quick turnaround time from seed to harvest.
"Right now, we're just growing an abundance of different lettuces, so we've got about four or five different types of lettuce. We grow beautiful spinach, beautiful kale and arugula, and some fresh herbs. We choose to grow those types of vegetables because they have a very high turnover. The cost of food is on a massive rise right now, and this will help us to keep that rise lower," said Ebbs.
With demand at food banks at record levels, this initiative will help support families and individuals in the community. "We're seeing a lot more people who are hard-working families, both parents are working, and they just can't put meals on the table. So, we're here offering what we can. There's always been a need here, but of course, since the pandemic, it's increased tenfold at least," noted The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation's Britta Gerwin.
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