Sowing Seeds of Hope

  Carley Basler  Churchill, MB

Carley Basler Churchill, MB

In December 2015, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC) wanted to explore the idea of growing food locally in their community. They began working with The Growcer to understand how this could work for them. 

Through this partnership, they have been able to create change and hope in their town by reducing food prices and securing the local food supply.

 

The Challenge

Churchill was reliant on a rail line for supplies, which was rendered inoperable in Spring 2016 by flooding. Food prices increased rapidly and now that the community was only accessible by air, it was at risk of bad weather preventing food shipments. Even with the assistance of government food subsidies and emergency supply shipments, they still needed a more permanent solution.

 

Solution

The Churchill Northern Studies Centre purchased an Arctic Growing System to bring fresh produce to residents. Their system enables them to grow year-round, and helps Churchill to be more self-reliant. The AGS-IV in Churchill is the only consistent source of food if weather prevented flights from landing.

 

Results

  • In the first few months, 320-340 vegetables for sale in Churchill every week - increasing to 450 during tourism season.
  • In February of 2018, Churchill hit temperatures of -42oC, or -58oC with windchill. They were still growing! 
  • Prior to the AGS, the price of leafy greens was $7.25 with government subsidies. Now, greens are sold for $4.99.

 

The greens and other produce being growing in Churchill is a major improvement on what’s being shipped in, which is often up to two weeks old by the time it arrives. Produce is fresher, tastes better, and has less packaging. Dubbed “Rocket Greens” due to the fact the farm is located on a decommissioned rocket range, the new veggies have been able to compete with the subsidized price of produce.

 

"We are relying completely on air travel for all of our food to come into the community. If there was a blizzard or something where planes were not able to land, having this kind of food production happening onsite in our community, I think, is really incredible." 

- STEPHANIE PULEO, Interim Executive Director, CNSC

 

Some of the produce being grown is new to the community’s residents, so Carley also keeps recipes on hand for items such as kale and bok choy. Alongside her efforts to feed the town, the Studies Centre is also planning to offer some veggies to the local school, accompanied by educational talks for youth. 

 

To read more about Rocket Greens and CNSC, visit: 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/churchill-vegetables-shipping-container-cnsc-1.4473799

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/churchill-hydroponic-produce-1.4568847

 

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