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CAN (QC): Hydroponic growing container arrives in Inukjuak

The arrival of a hydroponic growing container in Inukjuak is a significant milestone in the Pirursiivik Project, and one of the first phases of a larger collaboration with the Pituvik Landholding Corporation (LHC) and Sirivik Food Centre to use a year-round greenhouse and container farm to grow, cook and share food and knowledge among the community. Over the past three years, the One Drop Foundation and Makivik Corporation have partnered with the RBC Foundation to implement the Pirursiivik Project in Inukjuak, Nunavik.

The Pirursiivik Project, meaning “a place to grow” in Inuktitut, is a 4-year initiative which aims to improve the community’s health through the implementation of a greenhouse and a social art program to promote healthy habits around water and nutrition. This project represents a $2.7-million community investment between the RBC Foundation and the One Drop Foundation.

The arrival of the hydroponic container farm on October 11, 2020, is a significant milestone in this ambitious project yet is only the tip of the iceberg. The true success of this initiative lies under the waterline: the community mobilization and leadership at each step of the project. From day one, the community of Inukjuak stepped up to take concrete action towards improving access to fresh produce for Inukjuammiut. A Community Advisory Committee with representatives from over 15 local organizations was established, and this group of volunteers has continued to meet monthly to provide key input on project activities and planning.

The hydroponic container which uses water to grow instead of soil was purchased from The Growcer, a Canadian company established in Ottawa, and will be locally owned and operated. It will soon be installed and begin producing leafy greens this winter with the target to share the first harvest with the community. The fresh produce will be available to community members who, through social art activities, have learned fun new ways to use little-known vegetables such as kale and bok choy.

This growing initiative in Inukjuak was first piloted on a smaller scale, when the Pirursiivik Project supported the construction of and growing in seven community cold frames (outdoor garden boxes made of wood and polycarbonate). These were built using materials donated by the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq and constructed by the Environment Club at the Innalik School, and the Unaaq Men’s Association.

With this new hydroponic container farm adapted for the Arctic, the community is now ready to take this next step towards increasing food security and access to fresh local produce grown by and for Inukjuammiut. This is the first phase in a larger collaboration with Pituvik Landholding Corporation and Sirivik Food Centre, a year-round greenhouse and Food Centre in which to grow, cook, and share food and knowledge among the community. The project team is currently identifying fundraising opportunities to secure the $6 million needed to advance this next phase. This innovative multifunctional infrastructure would be the first of its kind in the North and would set a precedent for future greenhouse initiatives in Nunavik and across the Arctic.

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