A partnership between the Town of Strathmore, Communities in Bloom, and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is demonstrating a method of growing food indoors all year round.
Last year, FCC gave Communities in Bloom $1,000 for their food security initiative and returned on Sept. 22 to see what had been done with the funding.
“We like to invest in our communities, in our agriculture space, because that’s who we work with and we have our own actual initiative called Drive Away Hunger, where we collect food donations and donate that. So, food security fits right in with our initiatives,” said Lexi Dyck, relationship manager for FCC. “It started with the community gardens, actually, so when we were thinking about community investment and where we wanted to invest and something that was a unique space around food was community gardens … that’s how we connected with Communities in Bloom.”
The funding received by Communities in Bloom was divided between the demonstration tower, signs to talk about and advertise the project, maintenance of the Birth Forest, and other sustainable growing activities in town.
Similar to the system now established at the town, grow towers have also begun to be used in schools for both the benefit of the community, as well as to teach kids about food security.
“This project is all about food security. After a tough year with drought and everything, FCC is in the business of agriculture. (Through) good and bad times, we are all about food security and it is great to support communities that are also forwarding those initiatives,” said Lexi Hoy, relationship management associate with FCC. “We’ve seen a lot more focus on vertical farming and kind of that growing in a small indoor greenhouse space without the big greenhouse. It is something that we’ve seen people in the industry take an interest in, but I have never seen a tower like this, so it is a pretty new thing.”
Every year, she added, FCC makes an effort to donate to some sort of community investment project, which included the efforts being made by Communities in Bloom.
“The tower itself is quite a self-enclosed, self-sustaining system. It’s got a timer on the lights and on the pump, which pumps water up through the middle, keeps the roots from drying out and gives them nutrients,” explained Jennifer Neufeld, chair of Communities in Bloom.
For regular consumers, setups like, or similar to the tower on display at the town are available with relatively to extremely accessible levels of affordability, depending on how elaborate and self-sustaining one wishes their growing setup to be.
The demonstration tower at the town is freely available to be picked from and eaten by folks visiting the town building. Additionally, free seeds have been made available adjacent to the tower should folks be wanting to try growing edible plants of their own.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times