Nunavik community creates new place for food waste

Inukjuak organization starts composting

Old shipping crates have been repurposed into compost boxes for the Village of Inukjuak. (Photo courtesy of Maggie Napartuk)

By Elaine Anselmi

In Inukjuak, old wooden shipping crates have been repurposed into compost boxes.

“The first two crates we have outside our office building we’re going to make central to anyone in the community who wants to drop off waste,” said Maggie Napartuk, coordinator for the Pirursiivik: Greenhouse and Social Arts Project in Inukjuak.

“And I’m in touch with the local Northern store and two Co-op stores to pick up waste that has to go to the local dump—that’s where it usually goes, so it’s really beneficial all around.”

The list of items that can go into the composter is vast, Napartuk said, including all fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, even some paper products—but no meat.

The new compost bins are already being used by the community. (Photo courtesy of Maggie Napartuk.)

Already a few people in town have told Napartuk they would contribute waste to the compost bins, and they’ve already started collecting it.

“The soup kitchen we have here, they make breakfast for the community and anyone who would like to have breakfast,” said Napartuk. “They cook every day, so they have a lot of food waste to collect.”

While the odd individual might have their own compost pile going, in general, Napartuk said, this is new to the community.

“It’s an introduction on how to maintain composting piles, collecting vegetable and fruit waste,” she said. “The information I’m starting to pass to local people is quite new.”

The Pirursiivik: Greenhouse and Social Arts Project is a partnership between Makivik Corporation and the One Drop foundation that supports sustainable development through education, as well as arts-based programs. The project started in November 2017 with a $2 million in funding over three years.

Run by Karin Kettler, the ultimate goal of Pirursiivik, which means “a place to grow” in Inuktitut, is, aptly, to develop a greenhouse to provide local produce, appreciation for nutrition, as well as local business opportunities. And the potential is proven by greenhouses running in both Kujjuaq and Kangiqsualujjuaq.

But while the greenhouse is in the long-term plans, the composting program and various workshops around building and maintaining gardens and using a composting system are in the short-term.

Among those workshops, in August, Brett Weddle, an Ottawa sustainable food farmer, will be visiting the community to talk about composting, planting and maintaining a garden. And from September 9 to 13, Piriursiivik is hosting a Nunavik Greenhouse training program in Kuujjuaq.

And until Inukjuak’s greenhouse is built, Pirursiivik has put built four cold frames—covered garden boxes—throughout the community, sown with a few different varieties of seeds, to see what works best, including spinach and carrots.

“I’m sure the more we pass the word around, the workshop is going to inform the community and I’m hoping we have more people gardening on their own,” said Napartuk.

And, of course, they’ll have a good store of compost to enrich their future gardens.

“Since the planning of the greenhouse building in Inukjuak is coming,” Napartuk said, “this is a good foundation we’re building to maintain soil and create compost piles.”

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Waste is in on

    So much waste. Compost is a great idea, but let’s look at our waste to begin with. Back in our struggling days , if I can called it that , the genuine days, there was little or no waste to begin with. Today, in our struggling days with our devastation, of getting nowhere, we seem to have more money, and the waste of food from our houses are incredible. We hunt not for food anymore too. We kill the animals and trap and fish to now be able to contribute to that compost, oh yes. We all need a wake up call, to stop the waste of food to not even be able to have any for compost. When will the north take life seriously and start being real, with solutions to make life good for people. Seems like those bright ideas are forever popping up, and putting the wool over many eyes, I’m not in, I’m not impressed. I have nothing to contribute, and proudly so.

  2. Posted by Oxymoron on

    Got to laugh, but seriously. I can see it now, the food produced from the compost, being wasted to go back into the compost, recycling to waste again. That’s our Nunavik, going around in useless circles of solutions, that lead us back to the problem, therefore getting nowhere. And don’t forget, spending Hugh amounts to produce that waste, then complain that we have no money, and groceries are expensive in the stores, buying food, so we can again send it to the compost. It’s easy to see the wind that drives the problem, and blows away the solutions doing so.

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