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‘Strengthening our food system’: Wildsight bringing hydroponic container farm to Fernie

The project recently received $252,000 from the federal government
Dawn Deydey at the Local store in Fernie, operated by Wildsight Elk Valley. Wildsight, with the help of $252,000 from the federal government, is bringing a hydroponic container farm to Fernie for spring 2023, which will be able to grow leafy greens all year round. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

There’s a new food system coming to Fernie that seeks to provide locally-grown leafy greens to the community all year round.

The project is by Wildsight Elk Valley, and recently got funding from the federal government to the tune of $252,000. It was one of ten projects in the East Kootenays that received money through the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada. The funding was announced Dec. 8.

READ MORE: Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford and Wildsight get federal funding drop

According to Dawn Deydey of Wildsight in Fernie, it is going to be a hydroponic container farm, situated by the Community EcoGarden. The plan is to grow leafy greens hydroponically, year-round, in what are essentially shipping containers.

“We will have a source of food for the community year-round,” Deydey said.

She said it will be a big change, considering there is only a 90-day frost-free growing period in the valley.

“To all of a sudden be able to extend that season, extend the produce that’s available within our community, really takes a step towards strengthening our food system.”

Deydey said their goal is to run it as a social enterprise, to give back to the community.

“We’re looking at, how can we get fresh, local, nutritious, leafy greens to people in our community who need it.”

The plan is still in the works, and she said they are in talks with various groups that could help to distribute the food to those in need. Those who can afford it will also be able to purchase the food, she said.

There will be a couple of weeks of training in Whitehorse in order to learn how to operate the system, after which it will be brought to Fernie to get up and running.

Deydey said the system involves lights, water, nutrients, timing, “and then we get some leafy greens.”

She said there are others in the region who are looking into hydroponic container farming.

“I think it’s something that’s really starting to turn on, but we’re currently the first.”

The project has been delayed due to some supply chain challenges, but Deydey said it will arrive in Fernie in the spring.

She spoke about the increasing cost of food, and said that the local hydroponic farm will be a huge step forward for the community.

“We’re very grateful for the support from (the federal government), for supporting this project that’s going to make such a huge difference in strengthening our food system in our community.”

“We look forward to getting it on the ground and starting to grow more vegetables.”

READ MORE: ‘A little bit of extra’: Spring program at Local helps reduce food costs for 75 participants

READ MORE: Fernie local Mary Cosman recognized as garden hero

READ MORE: Wildsight challenges people not to mow their lawns this May for the bees


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