Living in the Toronto area, I have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to the food we put out on our table. And it’s not just the food, it’s the year round access to fresh, decently priced food from the grocery stores, local farms, and farmers’ markets. There is just so much variety here that it’s easy to forget that not everyone in this vast country has these same opportunities.
Take, for example, the north. I’m not talking about cottage country; I’m talking Northern Quebec, Kuujjuaq to be precise, where the average temperature from June to August is 14°C and the average July day sees only 6.6 hours of possible sunshine. Of that 6.6 hours, about 62.2% is being filtered through clouds.
Needless to say, they don’t have backyard veggie gardens in Kuujjuaq and the cost of food is hard to believe (I’ve seen figures as high as $20 for a cabbage…). But, thanks to Ellen Avard, the Kuujjuaq community has better, more reliable food to look forward to.
Ellen Avard is a Laval University PhD candidate who has introduced greenhouses to the Nunavik people in Kuujjuaq. They currently have two greenhouses, a refurbished old one and a recently built new one.
More than just a greenhouse, the Kuujjuaq Greenhouse Project is working towards improving social, economic, and food security. Volunteers helped to build the greenhouses and currently help to maintain them. Kids and adults alike are learning first-hand the benefits of recycling and the importance of working together.
The need for good soil was one of the largest problems and so the “Compost Project” was started. Not only did it provide the greenhouses with highly nutritious growing medium, it reduced landfill waste, created employment, and brought together multiple companies within the community.
How It Works
Community members are given certain portions of the greenhouses and, much like a community garden, they are responsible for that plot of space. School children have the opportunity to tour the greenhouses, participate in planting, watering, and harvesting – a worthwhile exercise in helping young children see where their food comes from.
Growing food in these cooler remote areas is not impossible – it simply takes one motivated mind to inspire others and bring together those who just need a little push to get started. What a great project this is and it will be an interesting one to follow.
Check out Kuujjuaq Greenhouse on Facebook too!