Ag Canada wants study of northern greenhouse tech
By Treena Hein
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has just announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) to produce “a comprehensive background study on greenhouse production for northern/isolated communities, including greenhouse design components, technologies, management, marketing and most importantly cost/benefit analyses.”
The required report will “highlight current knowledge and identify information gaps which will provide Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and partners a greater capacity to make well informed decisions when reviewing northern greenhouse project proposals in various locations across Canada. This research study will focus on the technologies most suited for northern latitudes, and remote/isolated regions of the country and should consider the overall sustainability factors of economics, environment and social.
The RFP closes August 21st 2012, and the funding to be awarded will range from $100,001 to $250,000.
The RFP states:
“Food security is a valid concern in many northern and remote communities. Local food production can be an important instrument in providing healthy fresh food and could be a critical element to improve the health and well-being of the residents. Added to this, is the fact that income levels in Aboriginal communities are substantially lower than in non-Aboriginal communities even in the north. Many communities have a need to develop local food systems that provide access to available healthy, fresh food, while at the same time creating local employment for local communities. Traditional food sources can often be unavailable and reliance on imported food can be expensive and often of poor quality.
Opportunities in the north also exist to produce and supply woody and herbaceous stock plants for landscaping, fibre production, fuel and mitigation opportunities that arise from resource extraction from mining companies to meet regulatory requirements. Providing a local supply of these service products could result in significant benefits for both the resource companies and local communities.
Economic development opportunities for greenhouse production exist for northern and remote communities. However, further exploration is needed to better understand the feasibility of greenhouse technologies and the related economics for supporting an investment in the development of sustainable northern greenhouses. Greenhouse production of food or fibre can be expensive with the two largest investments being the available human capacity in local labour and heating costs. In remote Aboriginal communities, labour, with proper training, can provide the capacity required to operate and maintain effective greenhouse production and provide for local skilled and unskilled jobs. Heating costs have traditionally been economically prohibitive in remote isolated communities with diesel fuel and propane being the most common energy sources. However many of these communities have abundant locally available wood resources as an alternate energy supply. With the introduction of high efficiency biomass boilers, heating costs can be significantly reduced while harvesting the tree supply in an ecologically-friendly manner.”