Northern Sprouts is an Aquaponic Farm meant to help address food insecurity in Arviat, Nunavut.
Our customers are the community members of Arviat, Nunavut. The majority are Inuit peoples who strongly value their culture. Being a hamlet of 2800 people in Northern Canada, they also value their community. The median income is $23,000. The average age in Arviat is 25.3, with 36% of the population being 14 years or younger. They are interested in wildlife, art, and music.
We help Northern Canadians become more food secure by growing fresh vegetables and fish in our aquaponic farm. Our products addresses the issue of malnutrition due to high food prices by being offered at a significantly lower price than local stores.
We want to have a community relationship with our customers. This means that they will be very involved with our business which will form connections. By having community members help grow and harvest in our farm, we will establish a good relationship with our customers. Our free educational programs, sponsorship of the Inummariit Music Festival, and donations to the school breakfast programs will also maintain these relationships. By involving the community, the connections we make will help to solve problems and create value for the customers.
The key activities in our business include: feeding fish, checking water pH levels, cleaning the system, harvesting crops, and harvesting fish. In order to produce our vegetables and fish, we will grow using an aquaponic system. This system combines the raising of fish, bacteria, and agriculture in one closed-loop system. The fish waste turns into food which feeds the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water for the fish.
Key partners and suppliers of Northern Sprouts are: World Vision, the Government of Nunavut, Feed Opportunity, the McConnell Foundation, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, MaRS, and Evergreen. Key suppliers are Growing Spaces and Lettuce Evolve.
An unanswered question Northern Sprouts needs to solve is “How can we sustainably power our greenhouse?” Our goal is to to power the greenhouse entirely with renewable energy. World Vision can help us by providing us with resources from various professionals in the renewable energy industry.
Another unanswered question about our venture is “How might we gain more supporters and sponsors to fund our enterprise?” World Vision can help Northern Sprouts acquire more sponsors and supporters through their large network as an international organization.
Our main revenue stream is through the sale of vegetables and fish to the community of Arviat, Nunavut.
Our initial costs costs are for the transpiration of equipment and construction. Our major costs are for the greenhouse and aquaponic system. We are spending the bulk of our money on infrastructure and the system because it has been shown that the more money that is spent on a high-quality building and system, the less you will spend on maintenance in the long run.
Our long-term costs include paying employees to run the greenhouse, initial costs of seeds and fish, and cost of water. Our major costs are power to heat the greenhouse and fish food. We are spending money this way because without heat the plants will not grow and die, and the fish need nutritious food in order to become a healthy source of food for the community.
At this point we cannot accurately anticipate when we will breakeven or become profitable because we do not know exactly what vegetables or fish we will be growing. This is because we have not yet reached out into the community to see what the people of Arviat want to eat or what will work best. It will take some trial and error to see which vegetables and fish will do well in our aquaponic system. In addition, we would like to maintain the culture and food of the Inuit peoples. Vegetables are not a big part of a traditional Inuit diet because they do not grow up north, so we would first like to survey the community and see what they would actually buy.
Northern Sprouts is an aquaponic farm that sells fresh fish and vegetables. The cost of food in Northern Canada is extremely high due to shipping costs. Our goal is to address the issue of malnutrition in Northern Canada by locally growing food and selling at affordable prices. We support sustainable agriculture and organically grown foods. Our guiding principle is “Food for All.”, because Northern Sprouts believes that everyone, no matter where you live, should have access to nutritious foods.
one example of a failure and success and why the succeeded or failed?
An example of a failure is Arviat Goes Green, a local greenhouse project that aimed to provide fresh vegetables for the community. This greenhouse has many issues, a main one being that the soil had to be flown in because local the local soil lacks nutrients. Another issue is that it can only be run during the warm summer months.
An example of a success is Inuvik Community Greenhouse. It has been growing vegetables in Nunavut for almost 20 years. It was a success because of the community involvement and ability to keep the greenhouse warm. They held crop-picking parties, delivered vegetables to a soup kitchen and women’s shelter, offering resources to grow food, compost pick up, and even contests like bingo. The entire community is invested in helping the greenhouse succeed and thrive. In addition, they used water barrels to keep the air warmer.
We will measure our impact by conducting surveys in the community of Arviat, Nunavut. This survey will ask questions related to food insecurity such as how much a monthly amount of groceries costs for an individual, the staples in their diet, the amount of nutrition in their meals, and other similar questions. The surveys will be handed before the implementation of the aquaponic system, three months after, six months after, nine months after, and annually. This method ensures that we have data that shows the progress on how well the aquaponic system is helping food insecurity.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Our team’s biggest weakness is that we are composed of high-school students. This leads people to underestimate our potential and doubt our capabilities in creating a big impact. By teaming up with World Vision, we can refute the assumptions others have made. Another weakness is that we do not have much experience with startups or raising capital. With the help of incubators such as MaRS, we will be able to overcome this obstacle and successfully raise the money we need to start our enterprise.
Our team’s biggest strength is that we have the support and resources of the Munk School of Global Affairs, Rotman School of Management’s Integrative Thinking, and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto through the Global Ideas Institute. They have provided us with mentors to guide us through our idea and to help pitch it to judges which will be useful to help pitch our idea to foundations for grants. Another one of our strengths is that t our team is composed of a very diverse and determined set of individuals. By having each team member contribute their unique ideas and knowledge of food insecurity, we will be able to tackle the issue of food insecurity by creating a solution that is achievable and creative.
In developing our venture, we have made the critical assumption that the people of Arviat want our help and are willing accept our proposal of incorporating an aquaponic system into their community.
Most Significant Challenge
The most significant challenge that we will face is transporting the physical materials to Arviat. It is a remote location that is only accessible to big cities in Canada via airplane, thus, we will have to create a concrete strategy to transport all materials to Arviat in one flight to minimize costs.