Inuvik greenhouse enters 20th gardening season

New this year is a greenhouse manager, a cafe, a chicken coop and more

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To celebrate the opening of its 20th gardening season, the Inuvik Community Greenhouse hosted an Easter egg hunt and free pancake breakfast for community members on April 20.

Seeds, starter supplies, soil, pots and cages were also available for purchase at the event. Residents were also invited to sign up for memberships, which would grant them 24/7 access to the Greenhouse from now until October.

Mackenzie Hicks pours maple syrup over her pancakes during the opening of the 20th gardening season for the Inuvik Community Greenhouse on April 20. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo

Ray Solotki, the executive director of the greenhouse, said the mission is to have community members interacting with one another in a positive manner.

The whole mandate of the greenhouse is to promote community through gardening. For example, events like today, just having tons of people come through the doors from all different sides of the community,” said Solotki.

A number of new features have been added to the greenhouse this season, one being the creation of a manager position.

Marion Mace will serve as the first manager of the greenhouse, a role that she said that she is excited to take on.

There’s a lot of responsibilities but I think we have an amazing team,” Mace said.

As manager, Mace will oversee the building’s maintenance and deal with memberships. She’s also in charge of FoodFit, a 12-week-long healthy eating and lifestyle program.

The greenhouse has also added the town of Nunavik, Que., to its list of communities that will receive lessons on gardening.  

We hire a local person in each community and train them to teach people how to garden. This is our third year. We have all seven of the Beaufort Delta communities,” said Solotki.

Also new is a cafe that will be open twice a week, which is scheduled to be up and running in June.

We’re going to be doing espressos, lattes, cappuccinos,” said Solotki. “We’re going to make a big soup every day and do sandwiches.”

In addition to a week-long summer camp, Solotki said weekly gardening workshops are also being introduced in June.

Seed starting, soil starting, weeding, watering. We’ll have some food preservation workshops,” she said. “We’ll constantly have something new every single week that everyone is invited to.”

The greenhouse is also planning on having a chicken coop set up outside of the building, as well as a nearby outdoor garden.

This building is related to the residential school that was here. One of the big barriers has been that people have memories of this arena when it was owned by Grollier Hall,” said Solotki. “Over by the Inuvik Native Band, we’re planning on helping them build an outdoor garden. So people who want to be part of gardening here but don’t feel comfortable in this building are able to take part in gardening outside.”

Solotki added that the greenhouse is planning on hosting a ceremony later this year that will promote and celebrate local culture.

We’re hoping to do some sort of drum dancing or event in here that would commemorate or embrace where we came from,” she said. “We understand that some people have a negative feeling, but we can turn that into a positive and move forward in a way that helps the community.”

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