Dec. 8, 2020

Western Canada’s first off-grid food production facility to provide fresh produce to Yukon community year-round

Arctic Institute of North America tests options for sustainable food security in southwest Yukon

The Arctic Institute of North America (AINA)’s Kluane Lake Research Station (KLRS) has established an off-grid hydroponic food production facility that will provide Yukon communities year-round access to a variety of freshly grown produce.

Ag1054 is the first off-grid, predominantly solar-powered, food production facility of its kind. It also has specialized cold-weather adaptations to optimize energy use in sub-arctic temperatures. The facility, pictured above, was commissioned by AINA, and constructed by Yukon-based companies ColdAcre Food Systems Inc. and Solvest Inc.
 
“Remote and northern communities often have few fresh food options available, especially during the winter,” says Henry Penn, project co-lead and manager, KLRS. “In this containerized unit, we will grow a variety of fresh produce throughout the year, even in the winter months, which is particularly exciting.”
 
When production peaks the facility is expected to produce over 2,000 kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables per year. The facility is called “Ag1054” ­— an homage to Mile 1054 on the Alaska Highway, where KLRS is located 220 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse, Yukon.
 
Ag1054 produce will be sold in local communities, and researchers will examine the social, economic, and environmental viability of container food production for remote locations.
 
Researchers will be evaluating technology used in the facility to help northern communities make informed decisions about building their own similar facilities. “Food security is a priority for communities surrounding the Lhù’ààn Mân (Kluane Lake) region," says Chief Robert Dickson, Kluane First Nation. "We are very interested to see the success this project will have."
 
“ColdAcre is proud to have commissioned the Kluane Lake Research Station’s all-season growing facility,” says Carl Burgess, CEO of ColdAcre Food Systems. “Their partnership to work on hydroponic food systems and support for communities who are exploring this applied technology will be very useful to all northerners interested in food options.”
 
Researchers and the Ag1054 team welcome inquiries from community groups and technology companies interested in joining the project. “To maximize benefit to the Kluane Lake region, we want to work with any group that is interested in being be involved with Ag1054,” says Penn. “We are also interested in testing related technologies in the sub-arctic environment to ensure we’re maximizing the production potential of the facility.”

Critical funding to launch the project came from the Peter Gilgan Foundation and two anonymous donors.

The Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) is Canada’s first and longest-lived Arctic research institute. AINA was created by an Act of Parliament in 1945 as a nonprofit, tax-exempt research and educational organization, and has been a part of the University of Calgary since 1976.