Project : Village indoor farm funded

Submitted photo Growing towers similar to those pictured will be installed in the Project : Village Indoor Farm & Living Lab at the former FreshMart in Blacks Harbour.

BLACKS HARBOUR – The Project : Village indoor farm initiative is funded and will begin operations this year.

Eastern Charlotte Waterways (ECW), which is running Project : Village, is holding information sessions this month to inform people in the region about the indoor farm project.

The Indoor Farm & Living Lab Facility project received a grant of just under $127,000 from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as part of its Local Food Infrastructure Fund for the indoor farm.

The growing facility will include 50 hydroponic growing towers, a cold storage area, processing area and, in a future stage, a learning centre for Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) to address skills gaps and training.

In a press release, Briana Cowie, executive director of ECW, said the indoor farm will help address food insecurity issues and provide quality, nutritious food to the local community.

“New Brunswick is a food insecure province that is hyper-reliant on food imports,” she said in the release, adding the rising cost of food combined with limited ability to control supply chains and a lack of skills in CEA all pointed to the need for the indoor farm to be a part of Project : Village.

The two information sessions will give people some background of the history and timeline of the project as well as what the future holds.

“We’re going to give a little bit of a backdrop into what is controlled environment agriculture, what’s our plan to produce food, what types of food we’re going to produce to begin with and how much food,” said Cowie.

The sessions will also gather public input about what kinds of food they would like to see grown at the facility.

The facility, at the former FreshMart in Blacks Harbour, will also have outdoor garden and growing spaces.

Local artist Geoff Slater is designing the outdoor garden space and will present the concept for it, which will also launch this coming season.

While the project will be located in Eastern Charlotte, Cowie feels it is important to be representative of the entire region, which is why one of the information sessions will be in Saint Andrews.

“I think it’s really important to be equally representative in western Charlotte as well as Eastern Charlotte,” Cowie said.

They are also looking at holding a virtual information session for people who can’t attend in person and to areas like Grand Manan and Campobello.

The March 14 information session at Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre in Saint Andrews will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Stellar Maris Hall in Blacks Harbour will see a March 16 session, also 5:30-7 p.m.

“We certainly encourage anybody to come,” said Cowie.