Record harvest at Inuvik greenhouse inspires new initiatives

Inuvik's community greenhouse
Inuvik's community greenhouse. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

With so much food growing at Inuvik’s community greenhouse, a second market day and two new initiatives have been created to help residents take advantage.

Ray Solotki, the greenhouse’s executive director, said there is more food being grown “than we know what to do with.” Solotki said more than 300 kg of food had been harvested in around a month.

“That’s a lot of food – 600 or 700 lb of food in a month – from a greenhouse 200 km north of the Arctic Circle.”

Along with the usual veggie boxes and Saturday markets, the greenhouse is introducing a Thursday Market, an “odd box” which will be similar to existing veggie boxes, and a leftover vegetables pay-what-you-can day. 



“Some of the things are so popular, we actually have to set a limit. Somebody came and bought, like, 10 zucchinis at once.”RAY SOLOTKI

“We looked at our fridge and went, ‘Wow.’ We have a lot of lettuce and we still have lettuce to harvest, and we still have Swiss chard to harvest, and we still have rhubarb to harvest,” said Solotki.

“So how can we get it out to people? We were brainstorming how to not waste our food and also how to capture everyone in the community, to have an opportunity to feed their families for a decent price.”

Odd boxes will be available for pick-up on Tuesdays. They are a smaller and cheaper version of the veggie box.



“We’re taking that idea of the veggie box – which everyone paid $20 a week for, and they have a $25 to $35 value – and we’re making a slightly smaller version,” said Solotki.

“Our regular veggie box usually has six items in it. The odd box has three, maybe four or five items. And so there’s still like a $15 to $20 value, but they were harvested the previous Wednesday and Thursday.”

Wednesday is when leftover vegetables from the past week will be outside the greenhouse for people to collect.

“If you have a bit of change in your pocket and you want to get some food or if your family just really needs it, you can really pad your groceries by coming and getting a couple bags of lettuce for free,” said Solotki.

“We’re OK with that, too. Anything left over at the end of the day on Wednesday goes to the food bank.”

With everyone staying home because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, Solotki said many more residents than in previous years have been buying produce from the greenhouse.

“We have 40 extra families than we did last year and the demographic of those families is across the board. Anybody and everybody in our community is using the veggie boxes.

“Some of the things are so popular, we actually have to set a limit. Somebody came and bought, like, 10 zucchinis at once.”