Kugluktuk, Nunavut, in Canada’s central Arctic, is finding new ways to provide the community with fresh produce.
In April the hamlet harvested its first batch of leafy greens from the community greenhouse.
The greenhouse is a converted shipping container with a hydroponic system.
“It helps in many different ways, first is providing a reliable source of leafy greens which can be some of the most temperamental vegetables to fly up to the Arctic,” said Matt Stadnyk, manager of community economic development for the hamlet of Kugluktuk.
It’s mostly leafy greens such as mixed lettuce, spinach and kale grown at the moment. The container can produce about 325 plants a week.
The idea is for the community to have an alternative to costly air freight for fresh produce. But the hamlet doesn’t want to create competition with the grocery stores.
“The greens we are growing right now are different from the variety [the grocery stores] bring up,” said Stadnyk.
The hamlet provides most of the produce to local food programs such as the high school and elementary school breakfast programs.The rest is sold to the community.
The high school breakfast program also takes advantage of the TMAC Resources Inc. flight into the community every two weeks.
The school buys groceries from Glen’s Your Independent Grocer in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and the mining company sends it up on a crew plane.
“It’s fun that they are a gold mine because their crew change plane that comes here empty is literally a gold mine for us,” said Haydn George, the principal of Kugluktuk High School.
The flight brings up to 270 kilograms of food to the school. Allowing the school to buy more food for the students because they don’t have to pay for cargo.
“In terms of what it matters to the kids, it means they are eating grapes and bananas that nobody could buy in town,” said George.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Northern foods are now on the plate in Canada’s new food guide, CBC News
Sweden: Swedes eating less meat than before, Radio Sweden
United States: New farm bill program aims to fight food insecurity in Alaska, Alaska Public Media