It’s harvest time! Yukon’s first off-grid, dirt-free hydroponic farming unit produces grain crops

The Kluane Lake Research Station between Haines Junction and Destruction Bay is known for its studies of climate change and its effects on wildlife and the ecosystem.

Now take a look at food sustainability in the north.

It has been months of work but their off-grid hydroponic container farming unit is now producing leafy greens and herbs.

The first harvest comes just six weeks after planting the first round of seeds.

Brittany Weber is the farm’s farm coordinator at the research station.

And she takes care of the harvest.

“It’s kind of an optical illusion when you walk in. It’s super cool, ”says Brittany Weber, farm coordinator for the station. (Chris MacIntyre / CBC)

“We grow plants without the use of dirt,” she explained.

“Instead, we use this nutrient-rich water solution. Using pumps and gravity, we wash the water over the roots of the plants and this provides them with everything they need.

Weber says because the system is containerized it is a controlled environment so no pesticides and herbicides are used.

In the container

The unit is 2.40 by 12 meters and can hold up to 2,800 fully grown plants and 1,000 seedlings.

“We have six shelves that reach from the floor to the ceiling,” Weber said on a tour of the facility.

Yukon’s first off-grid hydroponic containerized farming unit. This unit can hold up to 2,800 adult plants. (Chris MacIntyre / CBC)

Entering the container is known as an optical illusion.

“The trays are actually angled so you stand there and see the next tray in the back row and it will be a foot away from the first tray, but that really is gravity to allow the water to flow naturally over these trays “Weber said.

The plants are arranged in an “age cascade”.

The front of the container holds the large greens, while the back of the unit holds the newly planted seedlings.

“You can see the different life cycles of the plants,” says Weber.

A look inside the off-grid hydroponic container farming unit. (Chris MacIntyre / CBC)

The entrance of the container has been moved to a processing area called the Arctic Entrance.

In this way, vegetables and vegetables can be processed at sub-zero temperatures without having to worry about frostbite or the loss of leaves.

“We have a small processing area called the Arctic Entrance,”

Harvest the plants

About 350 plants will be harvested next week.

Products include kale, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, basil, coriander, and dill.

Henry Penn, research station manager and project leader, says the next step is to bring the products to the community.

“The plan for the first harvests is that they are collected in a couple of small sample bags,” said Penn.

“We’re going to take them to locations in the Kluane region and offer them free to anyone who wants one.”

“People are very welcome to visit Kluane Lake Research Station and take a tour, see the facility, and learn all about the project,” said manager Henry Penn. (Chris MacIntyre / CBC)

The goal behind this is for people to try the product, understand how it’s grown, and provide feedback on what type of product is needed and wanted in the community.

Penn says the project is now underway, the public is invited to visit the station and see for themselves how it works.

“People are very welcome to stop by Kluane Lake Research Station and take a tour, to see the facility and learn all about the project,” said Penn.

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