Local producers and communities are making the cultivation of fresh fruit and vegetables feasible in Northern Canada
By Treena Hein
It was really no surprise to those of us who grocery shop regularly when Statistics Canada recently revealed that fresh vegetable and fruit costs had risen about 11 per cent between April 2016 and April 2015. This revelation ties into the results of a recent survey of more than 1,000 Canadians done by researchers at the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University showing that due to cost, one quarter of respondents ate fewer fruits and vegetables over the past year. And two thirds of respondents admitted to avoiding certain high-cost produce items.
In Canada’s North, the situation is more serious. Fruit and vegetable prices have been extreme for some time, with prices commonly three to four times those of southern Canada because of the transport costs and small market size.
But if you’re wondering what Northern Canadians are doing about this, the answer is a lot. There are a relatively large number of established farms and greenhouses (most providing spring, summer and fall shelter for plants), as well as new year-round greenhouse projects getting off the ground that plan to utilize the latest technologies as well as alternatives to diesel generators for heating. Diana Bronson, executive director of the Montreal-based non-profit Food Secure Canada, agrees that there are some really interesting and innovative greenhouse projects going on across the North. “The trend,” she notes, “is toward more local food supply everywhere.”
And momentum is building. The Yukon government’s new Local Food Strategy for Yukon: Encouraging the Production and Consumption of Yukon-Grown Food 2016 – 2021, for example, features a commitment to develop farmers’ markets, community gardens and greenhouses, with a strong call for new project proposals. In March, the first Northwest Territories CanGrow Greenhouse Conference was held at the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) in Hay River, organized by the Aurora Research Institute.
“Many growers [of fruit and vegetables in the North] have diverse operations, so greenhouses allow for longer seasons and higher production of heat-loving plants, while root vegetables continue to be cultivated in the ground or in raised beds and containers,” notes Aurora Community research co-ordinator Jessica Dutton.
“There is [as yet] very little high-tech growing happening in NWT and growers tend to be more familiar with growing in soil than with the hydroponic (soil-less growth medium), aquaponics (fish cultivation in conjunction with hydroponics) and aeroponics (mist) systems that could maximize space and efficiency, so the workshop was a great opportunity to introduce technologies.”
Attendees learned, for example, about the new greenhouse built at Forest Gate Greenhouse and Gardens in Fort Simpson using “Titan Wall” insulated panels developed in part by one of the conference presenters, Tang Gim Lee from the University of Calgary (and Forest Gate also has aquaponics). Phalguni Mukhopadhyaya from the University of Victoria introduced the prototype for his vacuum-sealed insulated panels. People also found out about new developments, such as the dome greenhouse being built at NFTI using funding from Hellmann’s Canada.
Projects established and planned
As government agencies don’t collect hard numbers, it’s hard to say how many commercial greenhouses and farms exist in the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut. According to Jody Butler Walker, executive director at the Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research, there are 14 First Nations in the Yukon and all have greenhouses. Brad Barton, technician at the Agriculture branch of Yukon Energy Mines and Resources, agrees and says First Nation food production capacity is growing stronger every year. The Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, for example, has had a three-season greenhouse since 2000, and spokesperson Alice Bowland says they now grow broccoli, corn, peppers, melons, tomato, peas and much more.
In Nunavut, the Iqaluit Community Greenhouse Society has been in operation since 2007. Members grow various greens and herbs, beans, peas, radishes and carrots, and even some tomatoes and strawberries (started by members in their own homes using artificial light). Last October, construction of a dome-shaped greenhouse in Naujaat, Nunavut got underway, spearheaded by four students from Toronto’s Ryerson University with support from Enactus, an international organization that connects students, professors and business experts in using entrepreneurship to raise living standards. The project, known as Growing North, hopes to expand to nearby communities in the next few years. Crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes are growing right now, with over 20 000 lbs of fresh produce expected. A cooking club has been formed to help put the greenhouse’s bounty to full use, and students from nearby Tusarvik School will use part of the greenhouse in their studies.
In terms of projects in the planning, Professor Mike Dixon of the University of Guelph’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility is planning to head a year-round pilot project in Hay River involving a group of local people and in collaboration with NFTI. Dixon is the foremost Canadian expert on greenhouse systems for harsh environments, from future off-planet settlements to the North. “The insulated unit is already in place,” he explains, “but we need all the systems – lights, hydroponics, controls and so on – purchased and installed.”………………………………………………………………
With adequate sunlight and the proper environment for plants, you can grow edible fish along with a wide variety of leafy greens, herbs and fruiting crops year round.
This configuration employs our Sleek Beds as grow beds for those whose spacial needs may require a more rectangular bed. Media beds available in two colors! (terracotta or grey to match the fish and sump tanks)……………………………
…………………With traditional vegetable gardening methods there are many obstacles to overcome. Having enough land to plant a garden is the biggest obstacle. Not only do you need enough land you also have to cultivate it with a tiller or use a shovel and hoe. You also have to contend with crop destroying soil-born insects, constant weeding, soil composition, and knowing when and how much to water the plants. Let’s not forget about the small animals that love infiltrating the garden as well………………………
In this lesson, visit Sepp Holzer’s aquaculture system, beautiful aquaponics systems all over the world, and learn about the numerous benefits aquaponics has to offer. Aquaponics even reduces labor needed to maintain the system by 75%, as compared to conventional farming.
Join the Indiana Aquaculture Association Inc. for a two-day Aquaponics Conference on October 28 and 29 at the Kokomo Event & Conference Center in Kokomo, Indiana. This
conference is geared towards intermediate and advanced aquaponics. The keynote speaker is leading aquaponics expert Charlie Shultz. Lectures will cover a wide range of topics,
which will cover facilities and equipment, fish nutrition, pest control, current aquaculture research, species selection, food safety and much more. A complete list of guest speakers and topics will be available on-line at indianaaquaculture.com………
Tuesday El Paso Community College held a ceremony to showcase a new laboratory — but it isn’t a science lab, it’s a self sustaining aquaponics lab that is maintained by EPCC’s culinary program.
It’s a concept some say is fairly unknown in far West Texas. Instructors say El Paso’s future chefs will have an upper hand in organic, eco-friendly, self-sustaining farming practices.
From the outside it looks like a typical…………………………….
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture with hydroponics where nutrients from a recirculating fish rearing system support a plant culture system. There has been significant discussion, in particular within the hydroponic community, on how aquaponics quantifiably compares to current, commercially practiced, hydroponics and how the nutritional aspects change when not in the inorganically optimized solution known to hydroponic growers. Our objective was to provide foundational data quantifying biomass and tissue elemental concentrations for hydroponics, aquaponics, and intermediary water quality conditions that may provide further insight into any plant and rhizosphere dynamics. The first two papers are divided into part Part I and Part II. Part I investigates the solely inorganic hydroponic comparisons of the water quality aspects impact upon the key response variables, while Part II compares the conventional hydroponics to a recirculating aquaponics system. The third paper provides key metrics and design variables that will be of use to the rapidly developing aquaponics industry including sizing ratios of the fish to plant area and nitrification rates on the natural root hairs in comparison to inert surfaces. Lettuce was used as the model crop throughout due to its consistency at all life stages and its significant presence in hydroponic operations while Koi were chosen for their hardiness in a large range of water quality parameters, which provided flexibility and security to current and future planned experiments.
Since 1976…………………….In a fish culture system we have waste in two forms. First we have discharged water. This water in itself already contains a lot of nutrients and small solid particulate. The other form of waste is solid matter. Either of these two turned loose in a river or lake will cause a problem. They can be sprayed on a field and they will break down much faster than normal farm animal manure because of the fact that it is already very wet and there are bacteria working on it when discharged. However, this is still not the final form for plant food. It still must go through this process…………………………….
There’s a row of enormous fish tanks covered up with nets where hundreds of tilapia swim and jump up excitedly at feeding time. There are two greenhouses where vegetables and herbs like cinnamon basil grow in holes that are cut into foam boards that float in long basins of water. It’s not your typical farm, and it’s tempting to describe Bustan Aquaponics as a curious and novel experiment just off the Cairo-Alex dessert road. But when owner Faris Farrag explains the concept, it makes perfect sense. And then it’s the traditional, water-guzzling farms across Egypt that begin to look strange amid an arid landscape……………….
The Aquaponics Market Sales Research Report is a professional and in-depth study on the current state of the USA Aquaponics industry.
The report provides a basic overview of the USA Aquaponics Industry including definitions, classifications, applications and Market Sales chain structure. The Aquaponics Market Sales analysis is provided for the international Market Sales including development history, competitive landscape analysis, and major regions’ development status.
With local cities and towns putting water bans into place at an alarming rate this month, Ed Tivnan would like everyone to know the state of his garden.
“My garden has never been better, it’s always watered,” Tivnan said. “But the chipmunk is getting at it more than I would like it to be. I have to get up early in the morning to keep the chipmunk away. I’ve got the only tomatoes around.”
The chipmunks have been able to gorge on tomatoes in the middle of this summer’s severe drought at Tivnan’s Amesbury farmhouse, where Tivnan has grown 20 over 9-foot-tall tomato plants in an old woodshed converted into an unheated hoop house. Inside the hoop house, more than 180 gallons of water circulates through a 16-by-4-foot aquaponics table known as the Aquaponics Academy.
“The method we use has a continuous flow,” Tivnan said. “The plants always have access to the water, and they always have the ability to hydrolyze. Because I am circulating the water, I am actually reusing it in a sustainable way. For the amount of vegetables I get versus conventional gardening, I am using 80 percent less water.”
Tivnan, or “Aqua Eddie” as he is more commonly known, two years ago built a similar aquaponics table in a hoop house at Cider Hill Farm, where fancy goldfish — Tivnan calls them his “chemical engineers” — live and excrete ammonia with their metabolic waste. The ammonia then circulates with the dirty water into a year-round garden, eventually converting into nitrates, which the many different plants Tivnan grows crave.
“All I’ve done is put more water in the fish tank and let the system do the rest,” Tivnan said. “This is the most sustainable way to garden in the country.”
A certified teacher and an education consultant for Grove Labs in Somerville, Tivnan spent the past school year teaching advanced placement biology at Pentucket High School. He also set up three 8-foot-by-16-inch aquaponic tables at Gloucester’s O’Maley Innovation Middle School, making it the first school in the state, Tivnan said, to have an after-school hydroponics program.
“This is not only a great way to teach chemistry, this is not only a great way to teach biology, this is not only a great way to teach science, technology and engineering, it is also a great way to teach social studies,” Tivnan said. “It’s great to talk about the origin of different fruits, vegetables and herbs as well as where they came from. It reflects civilization and how things have changed.”
Thanks to a $10,500 grant from the Gloucester Education Foundation, Tivnan was able to provide the O’Maley school with year-round strawberries, eggplant, onions, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, basil, oregano, winter squash, rosemary and more.
“The students’ favorites are the carrots,” Tivnan said. “In fact, I had students tell me the aquaponics carrots taste better than candy bars. They are sweet, and when they are as fresh as they are, they are the sweetest.”
The aquaponic tables also taught a lesson in economic sustainability via a plant sale held at the school, which raised roughly $600 to go to the O’Maley school’s gardening club.
“Nature is the real science class,” Tivnan said. “And this is the best exhibit of natural sustainability you can find in any classroom.”
Teaching aquaponics, which Tivnan will begin to do with teachers at the O’Maley school this week, also fits perfectly into the state’s next-generation science and technology/engineering education standards.
“This is a living exhibit,” Tivnan said. “Good teaching requires that the children have hands-on experience. And there is no better hands-on experience than touching and experiencing living organisms, and what is even better is teaching them a sense of awe in nature. This is where the education of science needs to be reinvented. If we teach our students the science, their awe of nature increases. The life above us is great, but below your feet there is even more in the soil.”
With his tables creating new life in Gloucester, Tivnan said that he hopes to expand their reach closer to home very soon.
“We would love to do professional development in new schools and to help them with the new Massachusetts science curriculum,” Tivnan said. “Water conservation is a big deal right now. But right behind it is chemical runoff. You have Lake Attitash looking ‘ewww.’ That is because of all of the extra growth hormones and fertilizers that people are putting on their lawns, and when it rains, it runs into the water. This has no runoff.”
………………….I was most intrigued by the center’s plans to establish aquaponics in the center basement. It’s a form of food production that’s thousands of years old, but it’s just now coming back into vogue as people are increasingly exploring ways to grow large amounts of food on little land and with minimal use of resources. In a world that is increasingly overrun with humans, where climate change and the destruction of our oceans threatens our very survival, systems like aquaponics offer a potential alternative to our current carbon-intensive and environmentally-harmful forms of industrial agriculture.
I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but the concept is simple to understand. Aquaponics includes the raising of fish and fruits and vegetables, using the fish waste to fertilize the plants. It all happens in a series of tanks, one for the fish, one that filters the nutrient-rich water than drains from the fish tanks, and another that grows produce as the cleaned, but still nutrient-laden water is slowly pumped through a growing medium. There are many different systems out there, and the average handy do-it-yourselfer can easily set up their own system, in the backyard, in a greenhouse, or in the basement……….First annual ORR expo a hit……………
………………Then it was on to the Aquaponics Farm, whereby the children were explained that aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (fish farming]) and hydroponics (cultivating plant life in water). The water is recycled with the nutrients from the fish, which are fed organic fish food. The children viewed the process from the fish tank to the plant beds with a wide variety of lettuce, basil and mint are growing in the green house………………
Stewart Farms wants to establish Canada’s largest aquaponics and indoor vertical farming system in St. Stephen.
The 200-ton aquaculture system will help produce two to three million pounds of leafy green produce.
Tanner Stewart, CEO of Stewart Farms. said he is hoping to have the facility operating in 2017.
“Right now we are in our environmental impact assessment phase. We believe that we will be fine,” he said.
“One of the main advantages is that it is a very sustainable practice. We use 95 per cent less water. That is our biggest claim to fame.”
The system will be installed in a 100,000 square-foot building that was previously used by a company that made fences.
“We stack shelving units and grow leafy green produce, sustainably and organically, vertically. We use aquaponics where you are farming fish at the same time,” Tanner said…………………..
…………………North Star Agriculture head Sonny Gray said Thursday the letter, dated Aug. 11, confirms his project, that would ultimately see a 100,000-square-foot NutraPonics facility in the territory, can move forward as North Star continues its work in finding partners and funding opportunities………………….
………………Seedstock’s “Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference” presented in partnership with the OC Food Access Coalition, and scheduled for Nov. 10 – 11, 2016, at California State University, Fullerton, will explore the community and economic development potential of fostering local food systems in cities…………………
……………………………But this year, why not try a project that will be fun, educational, and (best of all) glue/glitter free? We’re talking about the Back to the Roots water garden, a mini-aquaponics kit that’s perfect for classroom projects or growing at home. Some people might balk at the idea of having to take care of a fish, but let’s take a closer look at what you’re getting………………………
………………………..Building a high-performance farm produce without destroying , respecting the environment , contribute to sustainable development, ensure a healthy diet without being limited by the season, participating in the fight against climate change………………………..
Aquaponics farms often amaze visitors with the symbiotic connection between aquaculture and hydroponics that results in picture-perfect produce. Yet many aquaponics operations focus solely on training and education. Gyo Greens in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, has a focus on both the business and educational realm, to further spread the message about the importance of eating locally and naturally.
Owner Helga Tan Fellows, who spent much of her career in engineering and manufacturing, began Gyo Greens after traveling frequently for her job and seeing aquaponics operations elsewhere. An avid gardener, she thought aquaponics could be a fun hobby—yet her husband said it would probably be a bigger undertaking than just a hobby.
The idea behind Gyo Greens (named for the Japanese word for fish, gyo) began in 2013, and the farm opened in 2014. The farm sits on an acre of land, and the aquaponics operation is in a 3,000-square-foot greenhouse with about 800 tilapia and koi fish in tanks. The farm employs two people full-time and three part-time. It also relies on a number of interns and volunteers from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Since its beginning, Gyo Greens has had a close relationship with local chefs, and the farm now sells produce to 30 or so restaurants in the area. Chefs sometimes rely on what’s grown by Fellows and staff—one item that’s been a hit is edible flowers. “They can be hard for chefs to find, and even when they’re packaged, they don’t always look nice,” Fellows says. Gyo Green’s ability to grow fresh, vibrant edible flowers have made them a popular addition to local plates. Other times, chefs request certain items; because of Gyo Green’s smaller size and quick turnaround time of a couple of weeks, it can usually help meet those requests. Pea shoots, red vein sorrel, and microgreens are chef-chosen items that Gyo Greens often grows.
Sometimes, Gyo Greens staff will grow other items for their own enjoyment, such as tomatoes, and they’ll share the bounty. But that also means they have to let buyers know not to expect those items regularly.
There’s also the education hat that the folks at Gyo Greens must wear. Growing up around parents who were university professors, the farm’s educational role is important to Fellows. The farm regularly hosts students—they’ve had more than 800 visit so far and are on track for 1,000 students by year’s end—and local residents who are curious to learn how an aquaponics farm works. Often, it’s a completely new concept. Other times, visitors may be aware of hydroponics but not aquaponics.
Some children are even in awe just to see where food comes from in the first place, beyond the store shelves. “Some students don’t even believe it,” she says. Yet then they go home and encourage their parents to visit. That awe and enthusiasm helps to spread the word about why aquaponics is, increasingly, an environmentally sustainable way to grow healthy food around the globe, Fellows says.
Gyo Greens also participates in a weekly farmers’ market held at a nearby community center, and the farm opens to the public one Tuesday a week during most months of the year. Residents can come by and pick their own greens “live.”
The farm work is not without its challenges; because Gyo Greens grows seasonally in a relatively small space, it is limited by what or how much can be grown. “If Mother Nature is not kind, I don’t have production,” Fellows says. Sometimes, certain items may not have grown as planned, and Gyo Greens needs to inform the buyer.
Getting produce delivered in a timely fashion is also…………………..
Been a while since I’ve been on this forum, but I’m still very much into aquaponics!
In 2007, I built a small AP system in my father’s backyard (thread). It didn’t perform too well on the plant side, probably due to a low amount of sunlight. Maintenance however was very low and it did produce quite some strawberries multiple times a year. I moved out of my father’s place and the system is no longer running since last year.
Recently I did my BSc-thesis on modelling the nitrogen cycles and greenhouse climate of the INAPRO-aquaponic system. An article on my model was published last month.
There are people all around the globe that are using aquaponic systems to either feed their families or to sell their bountiful harvests for profit. But do you ever wonder why they start aquaponics in the first place?
It’s probably the beneficial reasons behind it that get people so hooked…………………..
When Adam Cohen landed in New Mexico a year ago to teach greenhouse management and aquaponics at Santa Fe Community College, he was horrified to find out that only three percent of the food grown in the state was sold here. New Mexico, he learned, has one of the country’s worst……………………
From loosening restrictions on what “expired” means to dabbling with aquaponics and vertical farming, cities around the world are trying to contribute less to landfills with their wasted meals.
Puerto Rico’s lack of natural resources has led to an insufficient domestic food supply and large amounts of imports. One possible solution for increasing the food supply may be aquaponic systems. We focused on the economic viability of aquaponics in Puerto Rico and investigated the system of our sponsor, Agroponicos, Cosecha de Puerto Rico, Incorporated. We conducted a case study, financial analysis, an assessment of expansion opportunities, and researched resources and programs. We provided our sponsor with suggestions for improving their business and concluded that aquaponics can be economically viable in Puerto Rico………………………..
We want to help YWAM campuses, churches, ministries and businesses across the world make aquaponics reproducible. Come learn hands on all about how to build sustain and reproduce aquaponics with our on-site 2800 square foot greenhouse. We will touch on everything you need to know about aquaponics and how to run a successful system from experienced individuals with topics ranging from plant health to fish breeding and proper bacteria growth…………………
In today’s incredibly competitive and tightly controlled food supply system, competing on price in the local market is a constant challenge for local farmers because factory farming has driven prices down to a slim margin. Most countries subsidize their farmers and then compete on supply and prices in the world market which means that nearly all food is subsidized by governments somewhere. The result is cheap food for as long as transportation costs remain low and governments continue to subsidize farmers………………………….
An aquaponics system is a combination of raising your fish and growing your plants and vegetables without soil. There areawesome benefits to this for you and the environment, such as decreasing your water usage for your garden, as the plants no longer need nearly as much water with the aquaponics system. Maybe you have never heard of an aquaponics system before, or you are new to learning about it like I am. However, it is definitely worth learning about so you can build your own.
First, the fish tank is a crucial part to this system (and the best part too because you get to have pet fish). Picking your tank means picking the right home for your fish that you raise and take care of. Thus, when picking your fish tank, make sure you know all the important aspects about your future tank and which one is best for you and your system.
Okay, so now that you know to pick the right tank and you are determined to install an aquaponics system, how do you do it? First, you need all the basic requirements……..
We Love Aquaponics
We love aquaponics! We love aquaponics so much in fact, that we currently have 3 aquaponic systems. The main difference between aquaponics and hydroponics is where your plants nutrients come from. When everything is running smoothly with aquaponics all plant nutrition will come from the waste of the fish in your care. All you will need to do is simply feed your fish, test your water occasionally, and let nature run its course………………….