No soil needed? How hydroponics could change what's for supper
Could Project Suc-Seed change the way we think about eating local?
A simple idea that uses a storage container and hydroponic technology to grow fresh fruit and vegetables in your own home, is also providing work for those who need it and a possible solution to Newfoundland and Labrador's food security problem.
It's called Project Suc-Seed and it's the vision of a team of university students known as Enactus Memorial.
"[In Labrador] you literally can't go to the grocery store and buy a head of lettuce. When produce comes in, you are waiting two hours outside for that once-a-week shipment. We take that for granted everyday," said Emily Bland, president of Enactus Memorial and manager of Project Suc-Seed.
"But feeling the difference that this project is really going to make. Not only in northern communities, but around the world, it's amazing," Bland said.
An affordable fix for food security?
The Suc-Seed unit consists of a 102-litre storage bin with 12 different pots that Bland says anyone can use to plant fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs in the comfort of their own home.
The 12 pots are connected by tubing and a simple sprinkler system which is fed by a built-in water pump that does not need to be connected to a faucet.
You can set the soil-free unit up in your living room, basement or garage for a cost anywhere from $100 to $350, which Bland says makes it an affordable solution to help ease Newfoundland and Labrador's food security problem.
Growing youth employment
In addition to that, each Suc-Seed hydroponics unit is constructed by those who avail of the services provided by Choices for Youth — an outreach support group in St. John's — providing important hands-on experience and job opportunities to youth.
"It couldn't be working out better. This project is very much hitting home in a lot of different ways," said Adam Smith of Choices for Youth.
Nearly 50 units have been sold to schools and families across the province. One of the first harvests is set to take place in June in Rigolet, Labrador, where five Suc-Seed units are being put to the test.
Project takes national title, global opportunity
"You know, how can we take a place that is very hard to grow fresh produce and make it a viable place to do so?" Bland asked.
Be it tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins or strawberries, Bland says the only thing that doesn't grow well in the Suc-Seed units are root vegetables.
Aside from that she says most seeds are good for the planting and she hopes that will help the project take root in schools, homes and businesses across Newfoundland and Labrador, and the world.
The idea is also the reason why the Enactus Memorial team won the Enactus National Championships earlier this month, earning the group the right to represent Canada at the Global Enactus Cup scheduled for September in Toronto.
Congrats to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Enactus?src=hash">#Enactus</a> National Champions, <a href="https://twitter.com/EnactusMemorial">@EnactusMemorial</a>, home team at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EnactusWorldCup?src=hash">#EnactusWorldCup</a> 2016! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAllWin?src=hash">#WeAllWin</a> <a href="https://t.co/m4tjSgAITO">pic.twitter.com/m4tjSgAITO</a>—@Enactus_Canada