'Anything is possible': Nunavut greenhouses bring food, jobs to tundra
GJOA HAVEN, NUNAVUT -- Little plant life can thrive on Nunavut’s tundra, where January days dip well below -30 C with a mere four hours of sunlight.
But life is brimming inside a collection of new “grow pods” -- Arctic greenhouses erected to produce food for the people of Gjoa Haven.
In Nunavut, groceries can cost 10 times the average Canadian amount, a reality that illustrates the growing food insecurity in the region. According to an area survey from 2007 to 2016, as many as 46 per cent of households had inadequate access to food because of financial constraints.
The new greenhouses (recycled sea containers powered by solar panels and wind turbines) were developed by Arctic Research Foundation. The private non-profit worked alongside the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food to bring the new project to Gjoa Haven, which is home to about 1,000 people.
It’s not just a stab at a solution to high food costs -- it’s also employing a handful of residents.
“I didn’t know anything about gardening. But we know now,” Susie, one of five locals involved in the project, told CTV National News.
In November, the project produced its first harvest of lettuce, which the team delivered to elders. Cherry tomatoes are expected to ripen soon, and locals have their sights set on expanding the project.
For the Arctic Research Foundation, maintaining ties to the elders and ensuring the local community can preserve its unique local heritage are key.
“The people of the north know their backyard better than anyone else,” said CEO Adrian Schimnowski. “It’d be wise to listen and ask for direction.”
Elders would like to include some of the area’s berries and flowers in an expansion of the “grow pods” project. Typically, local vegetation can only be grown and gathered during the short summer season.
“Now I know that anything is possible,” said one elder.
More photos from Gjoa Haven. The research being done by @ArcticFocus and partners is helping bring a sustainable food and energy source North. Amazing ideas. On the coldest day the temperature was -41. Still, the winds pushed the turbines and the growing facility stayed warm. pic.twitter.com/ATlfhWNvXA— Jill Macyshon (@JillMacyshonCTV) January 29, 2020
The Naurvik project in Gjoa Haven, #Nunavut is testing new technologies to support food production in the Canadian #Arctic. Tune into @ctvnationalnews tonight at 11PM to learn what this could mean for isolated Northern communities. #foodinsecurity #agriculture @JillMacyshonCTV pic.twitter.com/t0IR8SKXo5— Arctic Focus (@ArcticFocus) January 28, 2020
Testing green energy and growing techniques in some of the world's most extreme conditions. Watch @ctvnationalnews Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 PM to learn how the Naurvik project is empowering community and promoting sustainable food production in the #Arctic. @JillMacyshonCTV pic.twitter.com/finL9ydSBK— Arctic Focus (@ArcticFocus) January 27, 2020