Creating a new and sustainable food source for northern communities
Food insecurity is widespread in many of Canada’s northern communities, leading to a variety of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, anemia, and heart disease. But a new research project by a biosystems engineering team at the University of Manitoba will tackle this issue by using innovative greenhouses to provide a sustainable solution for food production in northern communities.
The greenhouses will be built from natural and recycled materials and be powered by a combination of solar and biomass energy. They were developed by professors Qiang Zhang (team lead), Stefan Cenkowski and Kristopher Dick.
“The challenge of operating greenhouses in northern climates is the extremely high energy demand for heating and lighting,” says Zhang. “The greenhouse-biomass energy system we will develop will be energy self-sufficient and allow the northern communities to locally produce fresh, nutritious foods at affordable cost.”
To provide the plants with adequate light, the greenhouses will use specially designed, highly efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
The greenhouses will also provide a venue for community gardening, which will offer a wide spectrum of social benefits to the northern communities, including personal well-being and community development.
“This project is aligned with one of the University’s research priorities of safe, healthy, just and sustainable food systems,” says Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International) at the University of Manitoba. “I congratulate Dr. Zhang and his colleagues on this funding and on their leadership in meeting a critical need in the north.”
The $249,306 in funding for this project was announced earlier this week by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John E. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF).
JELF, previously named the Leaders Opportunity Fund, was launched in 2005 to help universities attract and retain top researchers.
About the Canada Foundation for Innovation
The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.