An Alberta entrepreneur was in Whitehorse this week pitching an idea for Arctic food supply.

Tanner Stewart's company, NutraPonics, designs self-contained aquaponic units that raise fish and vegetables using the same water. Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics. 

"We've developed our own format of indoor vertical farming technology," Stewart enthuses. 

The system grows plants without soil and uses waste from the fish to grow plants. The plants, in turn, help to filter the water. 

Energy cost a challenge

Tanner Stewart

Tanner Stewart is one of the minds behind NutraPonics. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Stewart says, in theory, the self-contained units could be installed in remote Arctic communities, however the biggest challenge is the cost of energy.

One common fish used in farming is Tilapia, an African import which grows quickly but requires water temperatures of above 21 degrees Celcius; about as hot as an indoor swimming pool. 

"[Energy cost] is a special challenge here in the North which I'm learning," says Stewart. 

But he's optimistic. "We can fix those cost issues with energy. We've made tremendous strides in solar power and wind technology. There's geothermal up here, there is great hydro electricity."

Arctic Innovations conference

Stewart was a guest at the Arctic Innovations conference hosted at Yukon College this week. It sought to make connections between different fields of study given the cost of living in the North.

About 35 delegates attended from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Wales and from across Canada. 

Stewart says he's in talks with Yukon College and would like to build a test aquaponic facility in Yukon. 

The Whitehorse campus already has experimental installations including an agridome designed for growing vegetables.

Arctic aquaculture discussed in Yukon

An Alberta entrepreneur is in Whitehorse this week pitching his idea for small, self-contained aquaculture farms. The farms grow fish and plants alongside each other and could be installed in the high arctic. Philippe Morin reports from the Arctic Innovations conference at Yukon College.

Posted by CBC Yukon on Friday, November 27, 2015

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story used the term aquaculture instead of aquaponic.
    Nov 29, 2015 10:16 AM CT