Growcer lead hand Bev Tourangeau
Hydroponics lead hand Bev Tourangeau planting the first crop of lettuce in the Growcer hydroponics operation in Fort Chipewyan. Also pictured is Johnathan Luckhurst, a hydroponics expert working with Greenplanet Energy Analytics to set up and get the operation going.

Last week, Hydroponics Lead Hand Bev Tourangeau planted the first lettuce crop in the Growcer Hydroponics Trailer located right beside the K’ai Tailé Market in Fort Chipewyan

“I find it exciting. It’s good for people to have fresh vegetables,” says Bev of the hydroponics operation. As a seasoned outdoor gardener she does find it very “tight in there,” but that’s because every square inch is used for producing food in any season.

Seedling in hydroponics unit
Seedling in the hydroponics unit.

Bev expects to be harvesting the first fresh lettuce in 4-6 weeks. Fresh produce will be welcomed in this remote northern community.

The purpose of the hydroponics operations is to test the idea of local food production, train staff and learn about using hydroponics to grow and market different fresh crops.

It all started as an opportunity identified in the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations’ (ACFN) Community Energy Plan. The idea is to create food security by producing local food. Part of the idea is to use modern high-tech growing systems while honouring and continuing traditional harvesting of wild foods and traditional gardening.

The big vision is to explore the possibility of expanding local food production by creating the Sustainable Food Production Centre possibly in the old fish plant on the waterfront. The idea of integrating fish farming is also being explored.

At this early stage Bev is busy training her already green-thumb to learn the ins and outs of hydroponics. Watch for the first fresh local lettuce to appear at the K’ai Tailé Market in Fort Chipewyan in late November.