Greenhouse Drives Innovation

CBU and New Dawn Enterprises work together on community project.

A joint program between Cape Breton University’s Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment (Verschuren Centre) and New Dawn Enterprises (New Dawn) will see local seniors benefitting from nutritious meals through a new Green House Program. The greenhouse was donated to the Verschuren Centre under an agreement with New Dawn to test an innovative cold climate heating system. As a result, the Verschuren Centre is growing leafy greens that are being provided to New Dawn’s “A Better Bite” Community Kitchen for its Meals on Wheels Program. The greenhouse became operational in late 2018. “We’re thrilled to be able to combine the expertise of our researchers and the resources of such a strong community partner like New Dawn Enterprises,” says David C. Dingwall, President & Vice-Chancellor, Cape Breton University. “This type of collaboration is the perfect example of how innovative solutions can have major impact in our own communities, and beyond.” This unique combination of food production space and plant development research contributes greatly to the capacity for the University’s programs to reach out directly to our community. The greenhouse unit will serve three key purposes in its first full year of production including: testing of the Forgeron Infra-Red Systems Technology (FIRST) for maintaining low-level heating in order to extend greens production into the cold shoulder seasons of northern climates like Cape Breton; supplying locally available vital leafy greens during these typically non-productive periods to New Dawn’s “A Better Bite” Community Kitchen for meals for the elderly, to have quality nutrition and variety in their diets; and an isolated section for safe testing of new natural products derived from the Verschuren Centre’s marine biorefinery. These products provide improved plant protection products for organic producers and large greenhouse growers alike, to mitigate biotic stress. Later, it is hoped the site will be a test ground for new, low-grade thermal energy recovery systems, to further reduce the cost of production. The cold climate greenhouse has been a vision of Father Ora McManus, Special Projects, New Dawn, since first initiated on a previous site in 2013. Father McManus’ vision is to have a means to affordable quality nutrition for youth (schools) and the elderly in climates typically not supporting year-round productivity and being home to high levels of food insecurity, such as Cape Breton. “It is such a dream to see production scaling up for real impact,” says Father McManus. “We are thrilled to partner with the Verschuren Centre and Cape Breton University, and make this dream come true.”