Iqaluit greenhouse plods along with limited funds
“It’s not just individuals reaping the benefits, we also try to benefit the community”
If you want to smell the tangy smell of fresh tomato plants, look no further than the Iqaluit greenhouse.
The Iqaluit Community Greenhouse Society’s gardening season is in full swing, tells Darlene Thompson, treasurer of the society.
That’s although it’s still facing the same financial challenges as last year.
Thompson scurries around the 20-by-50 foot structure, picking at plants and examining them in the steaming hot greenhouse, which feels like a tropical rainforest inside with dense sticky moisture lingering in the air.
Everything is growing well, but the greenhouse society can’t find any government money to help it flourish.
“We really tried to get grant funding, but all the grants we came across were very project specific. So if you wanted to run a day for kids or do an education thing, or expand the greenhouse, then you could [get one],” Thompson said.
The greenhouse does, however, help out the community when it can — even though they still have not received a grant.
“We’ve tried to do community plots for the soup kitchen and the elders home,” she said. “So it’s not just individuals reaping the benefits, we also try to benefit the community and invite school kids in here so they can see what is possible in a greenhouse in Nunavut.”
Greenhouse society board member Michael Chappel also works on invasive plants and studies species of plants making their way up north — in the greenhouse.
“This is an example of something that we do that isn’t just for our own individual plot members, and has much further reaching uses,” Thompson said.
So, while the long-term goal is to expand the greenhouse, money remains tight. The society runs a budget of about $10,000 a year, and half of that goes towards insurance. And if something were to break down, like a pump or a panel, greenhouse society members would have trouble finding the money.
Thompson thinks the society should get some government support because food scarcity is an issue in Iqaluit. With a larger greenhouse, more people could grow healthy food for little money, she argues.
Despite its financial challenges, the greenhouse is still “healthy” and will be back next year, Thompson said.
The society does get help from the Northmart, which ships up manure at a discounted rate, while the City of Iqaluit supplies the greenhouse with free water.
“It’s such a great community thing where people can get together and be able to pursue a common interest and be able to grow food for their families,” Thompson said.
For now, the society is closed off to more members of the public who might like to join in the gardening until next summer. That’s because all the plots have been taken up.
It’s $25 to sign up, and $65 for a plot.