Growing opportunity: Corner Brook collaboration sets up geodesic greenhouse project
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CORNER BROOK, NL – The Western Environment Center (WEC) has always valued the sustainability of food and local farming.
It will soon take another step in showing people what’s possible in Corner Brook and the surrounding area with the addition of a geodesic greenhouse. The greenhouse is a center and city project of Corner Brook.
WEC Executive Director Katie Temple said the city has supported WEC on its community garden program for the past 10 years, but in recent years they have begun to work more closely together. In 2020, they formalized a partnership to expand the community gardens from two to five and start a composting program in four of the gardens.
With a more formal partnership, Temple said they began talking about working on a larger project last year.
“The greenhouse was the logical next step when it comes to developing the local food system,” she said. “Especially in our climate, it makes a lot of sense to have greenhouses to extend the season. And they also create something like an indoor-outdoor space that we can use for workshops.”
The workshops conducted by WEC often focus on nutrition education and skills, teaching participants the connection between the environment and the food system.
“And it also creates a sort of hub, a physical space to connect as a hub, and we wanted to bring our food programs to a wider audience,” she said.
“Part of the purpose of the overall project was to bring together a number of different groups in the city that do food work and then reach out to a wider audience and tap into some target groups that might not have accessed our programs as often as they would have can do.”
To this end. WEC and the City have partnered with Vine Place Community Centre, the Association for New Canadians, Immaculate Heart of Mary School and Grenfell Campus on the project.
The greenhouse will be purchased by Arctic Acres and Temple said they are still in the planning stages as to size and location. Community consultations will be held in the new year to gather public input on the project.
Unlike the community gardens, where plots of land are available to individuals and families, plots of land in the greenhouse are rented to community groups who can then use what is grown there to support their customers.
WEC will have a property with the intention of selling the goods it produces.
In terms of what could be grown there, Temple said the sky is the limit because the greenhouse will be self-regulating when it comes to managing temperature and humidity, meaning they can grow all sorts of things .
Tropical things like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers can be grown outdoors, but in optimal conditions, it’s much easier to grow them in a greenhouse.
It also extends the growing season for foods in cooler climates like lettuce, kale, peas, celery, broccoli, and collards, which can be started much earlier and then planted outside.
Temple said the fall season can be extended by overseeding, replanting some things, and growing some things into winter.
She is not sure if WEC will run the greenhouse all year round.
“But whatever, it’s going to be a longer season than we’re used to,” Temple said.
city on board
Mayor Jim Parsons said the partnership with WEC has been good and recognized the great success they have had with the community garden program. Many of these gardens are located on old playgrounds.
“And I can see in the future as our demographic changes change again that hopefully we’ll be able to attract more families. Hopefully we will see more play equipment in the same locations.”
Parsons said the greenhouse was a logical partner project.
“Kind of a further step to look at food security issues as well as social aspects, the health of our seniors and our residents. This is an exciting opportunity.”
The greenhouse is expected to be operational in spring 2023.