Corey Ellis and Alida Burke learned firsthand about food insecurity in Canada’s North while running entrepreneurship workshops in Iqaluit. Undaunted by the challenge, they worked with other members of Enactus uOttawa to find a solution.
The energetic campus club takes a business minded approach to solving social problems. Diverse teams of students unleash their entrepreneurial spirit to make the world a better place, showcasing their best ideas at national and global competitions.
As they join forces with communities to create social enterprises and useful training programs, Enactus entrepreneurs typically aim high. For example, what if healthy, affordable vegetables could be produced in the far north year-round in insulated shipping containers?
Meet The Growcer, a high-yield hydroponic farming system using no soil and minimal water, powered by low-cost LED lights, and employing local people.
“We wanted to support communities’ goals for local food and self-reliance, and reduce dependence on expensive imports,” Corey says.
One of these Growcer units is now in action on the uOttawa campus, growing ultra-local fresh greens for the school cafeteria’s salad bar. The healthy produce is on students’
plates within 24 hours of harvest. A partner- ship Corey and Alida recently secured with Chartwells, the largest supplier of food services to colleges and universities in Canada, will help bring this model to more campuses across the country.
The container growing systems have been set up in Nunavut, Alaska, Quebec, Manitoba and parts of Ontario. Although The Growcer has grown beyond its roots as an Enactus project, its leaders hope to get more units up and running soon in a dozen other, mostly First Nations and Inuit, communities.
Visit enactusuottawa.ca to be inspired.