The Inuvik Community Greenhouse is the most northern greenhouse in North America located just above the 68th parallel, roughly 2 degrees north of the Arctic Circle. It is home to the Community Garden Society of Inuvik – a non-profit organization formed in November of 1998. The greenhouse is built within the framework of a previously abandoned arena, and provides a variety of fresh, organic produce for the community, in an area where such produce is not always available or economic. The building has become a destination for community members and a tourist attraction for this small northern community.
The building houses two areas: a community garden area with raised plots available to residents, and a 370 m2 commercial greenhouse located on the second floor. The commercial greenhouse produces bedding plants and hydroponic vegetables to cover operation and management costs. There are 170 half plots in the community garden that can be rented by members. There are also plots available for elders, group homes, children’s groups, the mentally disabled, and other local charities. Other programming spaces include storage, an office for staff, a classroom for gardening classes and a gift shop for local artists to sell crafts.
The greenhouse itself is an old Quonset style arena that has been converted by removing the tin roof and replacing it with polycarbonate glazing. A ridge vent runs along the length of the roof and is set up to open automatically. The community garden plot area is on gravel and each raised plot is insulated to prevent cold transfer from the permafrost below. The construction of the greenhouse utilized the original arena framework and most of the floors, windows, and doors from the old arena as well as recycled materials. Styrofoam cups and milk cartons are used as temporary pots for some of the bedding plants. There is also a composting facility on-site that collects organic waste from the greenhouse and the community. The Community Garden Society endeavors to serve as a role model in the North for recycling and composting.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This projects exemplifies the success of urban agriculture under extreme climatic conditions.