The Kingston Hydroponic Greenhouse ProjectDecember 10th, 2021
I learned about a new project from a Whig article:
Of the three projects, one seemed to jump out at me more than others. That is, Extend-A-Family Kingston’s hydroponic greenhouse.
Humans need to eat. Nutritious wholesome food is best. Maximizing nutrition for the world makes very good sense to minimize health risk and optimize quality of life. The Extend-A-Family Kingston mission to "build a climate-controlled hydroponic greenhouse to provide fruits, herbs and vegetables to approximately 500 people or 120 families year-round" has many of the ingredients to prove a concept which could potentially be scaled to benefit the world.
As such, I had to know more. I emailed Scott Taylor, the Director - Data Systems, Intake and Day Programs for Extend A Family Kingston some questions about this project and here is what he had to say:
- What is the best way to subscribe to updates for the Hydroponic Greenhouse project?
Part of our plan over the period of this fund-raising effort is to provide updates on our website (Dedicated page in construction), we could also build a subscriber list just for this project or send updates to donors directly if requested.
- What is the cost to build the greenhouse?
The total cost of this project is $48,000, this includes groundwork and electrical hookups that need to be installed, we have started this work at our program location, EAFK are contributing $12,000 towards the overall cost of the project which covers the specified requirements to install the unit which is at a cost of $36,000.
- How much land has been allocated?
We have allocated a space in our ‘Community Gardens’ which is at the rear of our postal address, this is the main entrance for our program participants. The long-term plan incorporates an area to accommodate 7 units in total on our property.
- What are the greenhouse dimensions?
The units can be designed to any dimension, the base unit is 100sq ft, we have chosen this footprint to start based on reduction of cost and to meet city requirements and building permits.
- Is this a proof of concept? And if so, are there any plans for expansion?
We have been working with ‘Dunya Habitats’ on this idea for over two years and have submitted various grant applications to fund the project, unfortunately with no success to date. Our initial discussions with Dunya were when they were a ‘Start-up’ entity. Since then, they have been working on new prototypes based on feedback from customers who are successfully using the unit.
Our plan is to incorporate a unit in our current programs, expanding on the relationships we have with other charities within Kingston, providing produce from our current community gardens.
Sadly, due to Covid, the last two years has halted our abilities to provide education to our participants through our ‘seed to table’ programs, which in turn transitions into our sessions in our on-site kitchen. Excess produce has been donated to community partners such as ‘Martha’s Table, ‘Loving Spoonful’, ‘Food Banks’ and indigenous groups such as ‘Tipi Moza Iron Homes’ who are supporters of this project and have been recipients in the past of our produce.
This unit will allow us to proceed to grow year-round fresh produce, regardless of the elements and or threats like Covid. Our vision is to see this grow into more focused education in growing while reducing the carbon footprint and self sustainability. The yield will also be sustainably greater than what is provided in the short months from our outdoor gardens, given the production growth we are looking to expand our partnerships with those in need of assistance, either personally or though a charity. Our hope is to also provide our participants with developmental disabilities the opportunity to consider learning social enterprise skills by attending the local markets and selling the produce that they have harvested.
We also work with the Limestone District School Board and have been accepted as a ‘Dedicated Destination of Choice’, this was a initiative started just before Covid changed our schedule of events, plans are still in place to have school classes attend our program as part of their education curriculum.
We are convinced our vision will be a successful start to a new approach for providing our individuals and our community with greatly needed supports in food security. Should we fall short of the required funds, our Board of Directors have committed to moving forward with the implementation of our first unit.
Extend-A-Family Kingston’s long term project plan is to install unto 7 Hydroponic Greenhouses on our property but to also consider and plan for ‘Satellite’ locations in strategic sites, maybe considerations such as ‘Habitat for Humanity’ new build sites.
- How many people does this employ for development?
Interestingly, this units do not require the need for employment of specified persons as they only need on average an hour or so a week in person to maintain the unit, the rest is through the general process and the rest can be monitored remotely through the use of AI. As this is part of our Adult Program, our participants will partake in the activities and processes as part our the ‘Social Skills’ development programs. Although as stated, this could provide opportunity for business ideas for our individuals.
One of our current staff compliments who has a very strong commitment to the environment and climate change is excited to be given the lead on this project as part of his current employment status and opportunity for self growth with EAFK.
- How many people does this employ for maintenance?
- Who has committed to doing what roles for the Hydroponic Greenhouse project?
Again, this is being planned as an expansion of our current adult programs and the finer details of roles and responsibilities are yet to be finalised until a potential date of implantation is confirmed.
We foresee that we will have one staff lead for the oversight of the unit and growing process and then allow staff and participants to take on certain roles as the project unfolds and as opportunity arises.
- Is there a list of roles to be filled/jobs to do?
A provisional outline, confirmation will unfold as outlined above.
I will continue to look into this project and post more information as I come across it. If you wish to make a donation to this cause, select "Extend-A-Family - hydroponic greenhouse" from https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-corporation-of-the-city-of-kingston/
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