Iqaluit Greenhouse Society ponders big expansion
Society draws up wish-list for multipurpose building at public meeting
(Corrected 11:10 a.m., Jan. 8)
The volunteer-run Iqaluit Greenhouse Society may only have a $10,000 annual budget, but its members harbour big dreams.
To expand an operation that they say has already been “proven successful,” the society wants to build a multipurpose facility in Iqaluit.
“We’re going bigger. There’s more we can do,” the society’s president, Steve Leyden, said Jan. 6 at a “visioning meeting” held at the Nunavut Research Institute.
The society could partner with community groups, such as the soup kitchen and food bank, to address larger social issues, Leyden suggested.
At the meeting, the society’s board of directors and a team of experts from consulting firm Agriteam Canada asked those present to outline needs for a multi-use facility that would enable Iqaluit’s existing greenhouse to expand.
The society’s plans could see part of the proposed facility’s space dedicated to greenhouse operations, and other parts dedicated to educational facilities and other community needs.
The consultants, whose services were paid for by the federal government, flew into Iqaluit this week for a two-day period to help with planning for the society’s expansion project.
About 11 members of the public and directors of the society, along with city councillors Megan Pizzo-Lyall and Kuthula Matshazi, provided a long list of suggestions for the parts of the greenhouse which would not be used for growing plants.
Practical suggestions included making room for a storage space, a community freezer and a childcare centre.
Organizers also encouraged the group to brainstorm any possible ideas.
In the end, they came up 27 possible uses for a new and bigger greenhouse facility, such as:
• a day care centre;
• a carpenters’ workshop for the homeless to build shacks;
• places to raise domesticated endangered animals, such as caribou and muskox; and,
• spaces for entrepreneurs to establish small businesses.
Last year, the greenhouse harvested about 50 kg. of lettuce during the summer growing season — one way that the greenhouse contributes to reducing food insecurity, greenhouse directors said.
At the meeting, they also said they would like to see the Nutrition North subsidy applied to food grown in Iqaluit, noting that Nutrition North Canada spends thousands of dollars each year to subsidize freight charges to bring in fruit and vegetables to Iqaluit last year.
The issue is not “food security,” but “food sovereignty,” society members said.
Leyden concluded its Jan. 6 meeting by saying that, by planning the new facility, “we are the champions of our future.”
The future facility represents “northern ideas, for northern solutions, for northern people,” he said.
When asked how much the facility would cost, that would depend what ends up getting built, Leyden said.
The society hopes to have a business plan in place by February and aims to present it to potential funders.
An earlier version of this story said greenhouse society members talked about a “day care for dogs.” Though this idea arose at the meeting, the society’s primary focus is a day care centre for people. Also, this was not the society’s annual general meeting, but a “visioning meeting” with their consultant. Their AGM this year is to be held some time in April.