Skip to main content

Growing North

Communities:
Initiative Types:
Funding Sources:
Target Audience:

Summary of the Initiative

Growing North will address food insecurity issues for communities living in rural Northern Canada. Our custom greenhouses will provide fresh produce all year round, at a lower than market cost to community members.

Growing North also integrates tailored programming to engage the community and promote economic opportunities. For instance, the high school co-op program will help improve graduation rates by offering credit for courses on horticulture.

Over the next year, our project seeks to solve food insecurity, while providing educational programming, and job creation in two northern communities. We plan to continue our mission until every community in Northern Canada has access to affordable and nutritious food.

Challenges

Training:
Given the nature of the climate, horticulture knowledge is not prevalent in isolated Arctic communities. We work closely with our co-op students and greenhouse managers every step of the way to ensure they are given all of the knowledge and tools needed to operate the greenhouse successfully, however, the learning curve can be steep.

Travel:
Our main administrative and organizational duties take place in Toronto, Canada, meaning team members must travel a long distance to reach our greenhouse managers and students in Nunavut – this is one of Growing North’s main costs.

Talent Acquisition:
Most of Growing North’s team members are student volunteers from Ryerson University, while a majority of our paid employees operate in the North. While we have a diverse team from multiple skill backgrounds, finding individuals who have a strong knowledge base in both horticulture and Inuit culture can be difficult.

Local Distribution Partnerships:
Grocery stores in the North are sometimes skeptical about local food production, having relied on subsidized shipping of produce for many years. While we have been effective in creating partnerships with local food distributors, having to help educate and build trust with new partners can be tedious.

Sucesses

Timeline

2015-2016
– Greenhouse construction in pilot community, Naujaat, Nunavut
– First round of co-op students help operate greenhouse
– Training program is launched, greenhouse managers are hired
– Inaugural harvest

2017
– Pilot co-op program with 23 students
– Arctic Farmers data platform launch
– Google Impact Challenge Top 10 Finalists
– Opening of farmer’s market
– Construction of 2 greenhouses begins in Arviat, Nunavut

Milestones

Education:
– Taught 750 Students: Healthy Eating Classes, Arctic Growers Program, Entrepreneurship
– 4 Arctic Growers Graduates
– Multiple students earning credits through curriculum – 2 graduated high school

Economic Opportunities:
– Training program is launched, greenhouse managers are hired
– 2 currently managing the greenhouse Darrin & Luke

Awareness:
– Live Speaking Engagements for over 20,000+ People
– Multiple appearances on National TV
– Written about in over 100 news outlets & publications

Impact:
– Raised $ 706,000
– Greenhouse feeds 612 people annually
– 51% price discount
– Greenhouse grows 13,250 LBS annually
– Interest from communities in every province and territory

Traditional Knowledge

We are currently in the process of translating our educational and greenhouse content into Inuktitut.

Working closely with community members, traditional Northern foods such as seal and caribou meat are incorporated into the various food recipes. We also grow local berries in the greenhouse.

55 Dundas St. W Toronto Ontario M5G 2C3 Canada

TJ Driediger

(416) 809-6901

[email protected]

Initiative Website

http://www.growfarnorth.com/

Lead Organization

  • Growing North
Other Groups / Organizations
  • Naujaat Elder Council
  • Tusarvik School
  • Tuugaalik School
  • Naujaat Food Bank
Other Collaborators

  • Ryerson University
  • Social Ventures Zone
  • Enactus Ryerson

Primary Goals

  • After conducting a needs assessment in our pilot community of Naujaat, Nunavut, Growing North identified four impact objectives: food accessibility, health, education and employment. Using a multi-pronged approach, we are creating a system that can solve all four of these problems in any Northern community.
  • Food Accessibility: Produce is limited as it must be flown into these communities. As a result, food spoilage before reaching store shelves in the grocery store while simultaneously inflating prices to unaffordable levels is common.
  • Health: Poor diet has led to increases in health issues in Northern Canada. As a result, community members experience higher than average rates of diabetes, heart problems, childhood obesity & poor dental hygiene.
  • Education: At 35%, Nunavut has the lowest graduation rate of all territories and provinces within Canada. In Naujaat, 1-2 students graduate per year, this is shocking as 63% of the 1,200 persons community is under the age of 18.
  • Employment: The lack of work is economically challenging and leaves community members with a lack of purpose. Within Naujaat, unemployment has reached 77%.

Funding

  • Donations
  • Core
  • Short term (up to 1 year)
  • Longer Term (over 1 year)

Funding Sources

  • Organizational Grants
  • (Ryerson University, Enactus Ryerson, Social Venture Zone, McConnell Foundation, Donner Foundation, Gordon Foundation, Brookfield Institute, Ashoka)
  • Government Grants
  • (Polar Canada, Ontario Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund)
  • Corporate Grants
  • (Google Impact Challenge, Lush Handmade Products, TD, 3M)
  • Greenhouse Farmer’s Market