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New food structures to help remote communities  

Food security and affordability are growing challenges, especially in northern and remote communities. Additionally, enjoying local produce during the offseason anywhere in Canada is difficult. Canadians can rarely enjoy locally grown products such as blueberries, spinach, and tomatoes during the winter.   

It was these challenges that inspired Kim Parker and her business partner, Greg Whiteside, to launch their vertical farming business, Food Security Structures Canada (FSSC). 

Both Parker and Whiteside have worked in Canada’s north and are well aware of the need for fresh, locally-produced food at an affordable price. There is a massive need to help communities diversify their food systems and reduce reliance on outside resources while also empowering them toward sustainability.  

Whiteside is a certified builder. One of his specialties is building climate and weather-resistant housing, so with such a strong need for innovation to improve food systems in Canada, applying that technology to agriculture seemed like a natural fit. 

The partners worked together to build a vertical wall growth system within a climate-controlled, antibacterial, and sustainable structure that would be unaffected by the season or the outside temperature. This type of setup features a large number of plants and plant systems and also a type of construction that allows each plant to grow from seed to harvest within the same growth pod. There is no need to move or transplant during any growth period.  

FSSC’s innovative product offering is called the Agrotunnel, which is a permanent building that stays in place and can be constructed in most environments. The transportable version of the Agrotunnel can be shipped on a trailer bed or a pickup truck to a location and then secured and sealed. This user-friendly technology can act as a valuable tool for farmers who want to use these systems to diversify their crop selection, grow more produce year-round and drastically improve sustainability. The system also improves food quality and reduces operating costs. 

According to Andrew Leest, Venture Growth Manager at TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario, “Food Security Structures has pinpointed a very important need for remote geographical areas, especially in Canada. With their multiple product structures, they can help improve food availability and quality for regions that struggle with access to nutritious, local food sources. Kim is a leader in our community and took an active role in leveraging all the advisory and networking opportunities TechAlliance provides.” 

Supported by a $10-million Government of Canada investment, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the i.d.e.a FundTM is led by Boundless Accelerator in partnership with five Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): WETechAlliance, Haltech, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario. The program helps high-potential ventures access the tools they need to succeed by providing financial and business advisory supports to develop or redesign products, services, processes and technologies that reduce impacts on the environment and create made-in-Canada solutions. 

To learn more about Food Security Structures Canada visit https://www.foodsecuritystructures.ca/ 
To learn more about the i.d.e.a FundTM go to https://www.techalliance.ca/i-d-e-a-fund/ 
To learn more about FedDev Ontario, go to https://feddev-ontario.canada.ca/en  

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