Opportunities grow for Creighton container garden

A group hoping to grow vegetables in Creighton with a hydroponic greenhouse is furthering its plans.

Northern Growing Abilities (NGA) presented to members of Creighton town council for the first time in months on Aug. 22, providing an update on the group’s plans to construct, own and operate a hydroponic vegetable growing area in Creighton.

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NGA’s goal is twofold – to provide fresh, locally grown produce for Creighton, while at the same time allowing people with special needs an opportunity to find meaningful work.

 “We will grow healthy vegetables for local residents and also provide learning opportunities to our school students, our seniors and local volunteers,” reads a letter drafted by NGA that the group presented to council.

At the meeting, NGA board members pitched council on the project, requesting assistance from the town to help execute the project.

“With everybody I’ve spoken with, there has not been one negative comment. Everybody wants to see this happen,” said  board member Amber Beaton.

Once discussions with the town began, NGA expressed interest in purchasing a lot on Main Street in Creighton, then requesting the town demolish the current building on the lot and prepare the site for two new structures – a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses and a hydroponic unit, which will be shipped to Creighton from Ontario.

“Our vision is to combine these two buildings and provide a place of employment for our intellectually disabled children and adults,” reads the letter.

After further discussion on the site’s location, both the town and NGA came to an agreement on a different site, located near Collins Street.

“If you’re looking for expansion, it would make more sense to go up there (to Collins Street). Even if we could rezone it on Main Street, you are limited in size there,” said Mayor Bruce Fidler.

NGA is pursuing grants to pay for the equipment and shipping costs, in addition to holding fundraisers and pursuing local donations. The group also says that the project could lead to profit, saying upkeep costs and water consumption for hydroponic operations are low.

“We anticipate that if we planted butterhead lettuce and sold it for what it is priced at some stores, we would have $130,000 in sales and would employ two employees for 15 hours a week to do the harvesting, the monitoring and doing office duties,” said board member Sheola Jansen, adding that the project would require between 300 and 400 gallons of fresh water a month to operate – less than the water usage of an average shower, used daily for a month.

Town officials made few hard commitments, but economic development officer Eve O’Leary announced an intention to organize a pre-feasibility study for the project and the proposed site. O’Leary suggested doing the study during the meeting.

“It would basically give council a full overview of the project, where it’s located, cost analysis in terms of services, all that,” she said.

“We’re just in preliminary discussions. We kind of have an agreement on what site would work and that’s where we are,” said Fidler.

Council will continue to discuss the project later this year.

“It’s slow. They’ve got work to do, we’ve got discussions to have,” said Fidler.

“I think it’s a great idea.”

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