A sustainable hydroponic growing system that produces food for 110 people per day, is on its way to the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society (GNS) in Prince Rupert. With the award of $175, 000 from Northern Development Investment Trust (NDIT) the 40-foot modified shipping container will be planted at Rupert Lawn and Garden, which the Society owns.
“This hydroponics unit means Prince Rupert will finally have a local source for fresh vegetables and herbs. Furthermore, the hydroponics greenhouse will integrate perfectly with our portfolio of small businesses, create good quality jobs, and feed families,” Blair Mirau, CEO of GNS says.
“It’s a big piece for us. We’re a quadruple bottom line business but we’re about much more than financial profits. We are also hoping to create positive social, environmental and cultural change,” Mirau says.
Mirau first saw the hydroponic shipping containers more than a year ago on an episode of Dragon’s Den. He then had the opportunity to meet the owners of ‘The Growcers’, who’s brainchild the Canadian state-of-the-art grow system is, in Ottawa. He says he knew right away that this all in one, complete growing system would be a huge benefit in the Prince Rupert climate.
Produce from the hydroponic system will be focused on edible food products, without large root systems, such as different varieties of lettuce, spinach, bok choy, herbs and teas. Tomatoes will also be attempted. Mirau says, if the system can obtain maximum crop yield, 100 families of four will be able to be fed every week in the city.
Food produce will be available to society members with around 1600 Nisga’a members in Prince Rupert. The food will also be available to the public through a new cafe currently under construction at the Seal Cove location of Rupert Lawn and Garden. Mirau is hoping local restaurants will also purchase the locally grown and sourced leafy greens. The greenhouse container will arrive sometime in the late spring, with the first crop available by the end of summer. It will be a new addition to three current green houses on the site.
“We’ve been endeavoring to do this since 2014. We saw the green house as an option to get into food, not just flowers and plants. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to make a go of it, “Mirau says, “This project will definitely help us overcome a lack of space and lack of land, but we still be able to grow fresh local produce all year round for years to come.”
“The concept of the commercial greenhouse hydroponics unit is to provide food security to society member communities and to gain return on investment through the retail sales of greens and herbs, ” a press release from NDIT says.
“The broad goal of the project is to sell greens at a retail price to the wider community. The completion of this project will allow the society to develop partnerships with their member communities to assist with food security,” NDIT says.
“We are incredibly grateful for this trans-formative investment by Northern Development; this project would simply not be successful without their partnership, ” Mirau says.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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