Greenhouse Project – “Hope Gardens”, Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan
Focus Forward FIY is pleased to announce our first inaugural greenhouse project in partnership with Senator Allen Bird Memorial School and the Montreal Lake Child and Family Agency in Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan. Hope Gardens will serve as an education-based tool and foundation of programing for children in Montreal Lake Cree Nation. Placed within Camp Hope, the location allows the greenhouse to become a place for intergenerational connection and the ability to reach out to the people of Montreal Lake Cree Nation through agricultural and nutritional programming. Initially, the greenhouse will be constructed with qualified instructors supervising approximately twelve students. These students will learn about the theory and practice of the construction of a building on a rotational basis within a two-week period that includes safety instruction and equipment. The greenhouse project is part of an overall effort by Montreal Lake Cree Nation to foster the development of trades-based skills of students through the greenhouse’s construction. After completion, the greenhouse will become a central feature of community-based programming that focuses agricultural education within a fun learning environment and intergenerational interaction between children, their families, knowledge-keepers and community Elders. The Hope Gardens community greenhouse project and its associated programming seeks to directly contribute to the well-being of Indigenous youth in Montreal Lake Cree Nation which we anticipate will also indirectly contribute to the overall wellness (physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual) of the entire community.
This is not your typical steel frame and plastic greenhouse. Hope Garden will feature a highly insulated shell (R-35 for the walls and roof) with only the southern exposure featuring a specialized plexiglass for greenhouses generously donated by Evonik. It offers high durability with excelled light transmittance and insulation value. The overall shape being long (32’) and narrow (16’) maximizes the ability for the greenhouse to absorb sunlight while minimized heat loss. The foundation selected features an insulted concrete slab mounted on helical piles that are securely fastened below the permafrost line. Due to climate change the permafrost has become not so “perma” causing many traditionally build structure to collapse. The helical piles go beyond the permafrost ensuring the structure will remain solid even if the permafrost melts.
Suppling heat to a greenhouse thought cold winters where temperatures reach a chilling -35 degrees Celsius is challenging, typically this is accomplished with large oil or propane heating systems that are very Carbon emission intensive and have high operational costs. At Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth we strive to offer the most sustainable solutions possible in regard to the environment and operational cost. Therefore, we have selected a cold climate heat pump (capable at temperature of -30 C) that is tied to a 10 kW solar system that will provide all the power consumed by the greenhouse. What’s even better is that the solar system is designed to cover peak winter loads meaning during the summer the solar system will produce a surplus of energy. This surplus energy will be tied to Camp hope though a Solar- Net metering program with SaskPower offsetting some of their electricity costs. The Greenhouse will also feature an electric furnace built into the heat pump and a back up passive wood stove that can provide additional heating during those cold nights where the temperature drops below -30 C.
Overall the design of this greenhouse challenges the status quo of the traditionally carbon intensive greenhouse industry and provides the Montreal Lake Cree Nation community with a minimal operational cost ensuring the greenhouse will continue operating for the next seven generations environmentally conscious and economically.
Located at Camp Hope, only 10 minutes away from the school in Montreal Lake. Camp Hope is a facility where youth can go to learn about their Aboriginal culture and heritage all year round.
Important considerations were taken into account when finalizing the preferred location of the greenhouse build.
Free of tree coverage in order for the greenhouse to have completely un-shielded sunlight to be able to optimize solar sun exposure.
Due to the sandy terrain, the design is based on a concrete pad foundation.
The site already consists of 6-8 cabins and a primary building for gathering and eating.
The program consists of two stages: Stage one – build foundation, Stage two – primary build.
Both stages include two components: 1) Theoretical classroom programming 2) Practical build site experience.
Stage one- component specifics are to be determined by contractors from Almita Piling Inc.
Stage two- Your Choice Homes Inc. (YCH) and their contract mentors will oversee the primary build using their Construction Worker 101 program.
Classroom based pre-build training: YCH will provide the students with the necessary skills and understanding required to complete the build (safety training and building process workshops). Step by step YCH will walk the students through the design, the trades required, all safety codes, project execution plan, and the schedule of the project.
Build site experience: students will gain practical hands-on experience alongside YCH mentors (framing, roofing, insulation, dry-walling, brick-laying, greentech installation).
End of program: students are to complete a career workshop to learn about possible avenues (education and career) that they can pursue following the build.
Hope Gardens Greenhouse will utilize its placement within Camp Hope to further foster an atmosphere of community engagement and intergenerational connection that will increase the overall wellness of the entire community. Through the technical and interpersonal skills learned by the building and utilisation of the greenhouse, Indigenous youth will actively contribute to their own education, skills-building and career development, in addition to fostering strong ties to their local community. Indirectly, Indigenous youth may be exposed to new career paths through their contact with the construction and programming of the greenhouse (i.e. engineer, project manager, dietitian, etc.) Through collaboration with Senator Allen Bird Memorial Schooll and its location at Camp Hope, this project seeks to utilize engagement within the larger community of Montreal Lake Cree Nation to create meaningful change in the lives of youth.
Contractor Mentors: Your Choice Homes Inc. (YCH) and Almita Piling Inc. as the contacting mentors for stage 1 and 2 of the greenhouse build.
Almita Piling Inc. is a Canadian design, manufacturer and installation company for helical screws. Almita has kindly agreed to let our students get involved hands-on with the helical pile installations when building the foundation for the greenhouse.
Your Choice Homes Inc. is based out of Saskatchewan and has had incredible success with previous builds for Indigenous communities across the province. They will employ their proven “Construction Worker 101” program using a team of specialized project managers who supervise the programs for Indigenous youth.
School Personnel: A technology teacher will be on site at all times to help supervise and assist in the construction of the greenhouse.
At the request of the Montreal Lake Child & Family Agency, this four-season, off-grid, solar-powered greenhouse will be used l by a qualified educator and Knowledge Keeper to provide agricultural and nutritional education to the community. The agricultural and nutritional programs will be separate but complementary projects expressed differently through curriculum, activities, and post-program assessment metrics. Though general programming will target different subsections of the populations (i.e. those at risk of obesity, diabetics, elderly, etc.), Montreal Lake Child & Family Agency places a significant emphasis on teaching children and young people the values of nutritional education.
Greenhouse Project – “Wiikwemkoong Greenhouse for Change”
Wiikwemkoong First Nations, Manitoulin Island Ontario
Focus Forward FIY is near competition of our second green house project in partnership with the Wiikwemkoong Development Commission in Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Manitoulin Island Ontario. This project will serve as a 4-week educational focus program for twelve students from Wiikwemkoong High School. The Wiikwemkoong Greenhouse for Change will embody a sustainable and four-seasoned design featuring a Biomass heating system, Solar off-grid system all nestled into a hill providing exceptional insulating value. Many Contractors overseeing the instructional portion of the program have been sourced directly from the community, creating economic development opportunities for local businesses. This greenhouse will serve as an educational tool for the school and community, providing agricultural and nutritional education to Wiikwemkoong First Nation for the foreseeable future. We are continuing to source the required funding to complete this project in order to provide youth in Wiikwemkoong with this life changing experience.
Disclaimer: Our conceptual design in currently undergoing engineered structural review therefore design elements may be subject to change.
The Wiikwemkoong Greenhouse for Change is truly a one of kind greenhouse. Utilizing innovative building techniques and unique land integrated aspects. The overall dimensions are 56’ length (North and South) and 24’ (East and West) with two small 45degree (SE-SW) sides allowing additional sunlight to enter the greenhouse during the mornings and evenings. The entire structure will be covered in earth and blend seamlessly into the landscape with only the Southern exposure open with our specialized greenhouse plexiglass spanning 10’ in height and 56’ in length allowing the maximum amount of sunlight to enter the greenhouse. The total area of the greenhouse is 1356 ft2.
To support the weight of the earth and offer additional insulating value Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) filled with 6” of reinforced concrete will be used for all the walls and roof construction. For additional support three interior walls will be built of concrete block, these interior walls will also serve as thermal mass, soaking up the heat from the sun during the day then slowly releasing its heat during the night reducing the heating requirements. The floor will be a heated concrete slab consisting of ½ PEX piping set in the concrete and fed by a Biomass wood pellet boiler. Biomass was selected as part of a Wiikwemkoong Initiative to start producing their own wood pellets within the community.
The ventilation will be by heat recovery ventilator (HRV) that will provide the plants with all the fresh air they need to thrive while recovering the heat from the exhausted air. The entire system will be powered by a 5kW solar off-grid system that will power the boiler, pumps, ventilation and lighting.
Students will have the chance to experience first hand that advancements in building science and work with the latest technologies to accomplish a one of kind greenhouse.
- Wiikwemkoong High School is located on the eastern side of Manitoulin Island. The build site will be located on school property and built into the south-facing slope. Exact location will be finalized following consultations with school officials and contractors.
- Two components: 1) Theoretical classroom programming 2) Practical build site experience.
- The pre-build classroom-based program: safety training and basic workshop skills (operating tools, blueprint reading, understanding scope of work).
- Build site experience: practical hands-on experience with the contractors (framing, roofing, insulation, dry-walling, brick-laying, greentech installation).
- End of program: students are to complete a career workshop to learn about possible avenues (education and career) that they can pursue following the build.
- Lead contractor mentor and program manager will be sourced from within the community (to be determined).
- School personnel and employment commission personnel from within the community will be responsible in effectively maintaining the greenhouse (to be determined).