‘Namgis First Nation to build commercial-scale hydroponic farm

A look inside the Growcer Osiris, a modular hydroponic farm system. All Photos courtesy of Growcer
A look inside the Growcer Osiris, a modular hydroponic farm system. Photos courtesy of Growcer
Innovative agritech solution provides ownership over food production for the community in ‘Yalis

COURTENAY, 1 FEBRUARY 2024 – ‘Namgis First Nation will set up a local food production system using Growcer hydroponic technology through a new investment with Island Coastal Economic Trust. This innovative technology will increase ‘Namgis First Nation’s food sovereignty. Through its direct-to-consumer distribution model, the new community-owned enterprise will support residents and local businesses.

The project is led by ‘Namgis Business Development Corporation, which is wholly owned by the ‘Namgis First Nation. Based in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay, Cormorant Island), the project will strengthen local food security, generate new economic activity, and contribute to rising community wellbeing. Due to its distant location from urban-focused food supply chains, the community is taking ownership over its food production to supply more affordable and healthy food options. This new investment will significantly reduce food miles and risks related to long distance supply chains.

The Growcer Osiris is a hydroponic farm solution buil tfor the harsh Canadian climate.

Built in Canada, Growcer is a modular hydroponic agritech food solution specifically designed to thrive in harsh climates. It can yield produce crops within six weeks. The efficient system requires less land and uses less water than traditional farming methods. These systems achieve a 12-month growing season, supplying nutritious local produce throughout the year.

Once installed, the project will generate a steady income through a direct-to-consumer subscription box that benefits residents and the flourishing local tourism sector. It will further encourage start-ups in food processing and value-added services to bolster local business opportunities.

Through a reciprocal relationship with the Nawalakw Community Garden, the project benefits from ‘Namgis members’ local growing expertise and passion to see food security become a reality for the ‘Namgis people.

A Growcer Osiris will be installed in Alert Bay, Cormorant Island, in a new project with the 'Namgis First Nation

The project will begin in February 2024, targeting a spring completion. It’s designed with future expansion in mind, too, with plans to add 1-2 Growcer hydroponic units. By hosting tours and sharing how the project became a reality, they hope to foster local growing projects in other North Island communities and First Nations.

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing $100,000 with the ‘Namgis Business Development Corporation, through its Capital and Innovation Program, towards a total investment of $385,000. This project investment is focused on building the local economy and strengthening wellbeing through the Food Security and Agrifood impact stream.

The Trust has previously invested in similar projects, including Dock+, The Port Alberni Regional Food Hub, and Tiičma Fisheries Aquaculture Logistics Facility.

What Leaders are Saying

“We, the ‘Namgis First Nation, along with the NBDC appreciate the opportunity to address food security through hydroponics. The ‘Namgis First Nation has always relied mostly on importing fruits and vegetables. These items have become so costly members struggle with making healthy choices. This initiative will increase our community garden’s products and also provide knowledge on growing with hydroponics.” – Chief Victor Isaac, ‘Namgis First Nation

“Food security has long been an issue on the North Island, especially in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay).  We are optimistic this small-scale, pilot project will lead to expansion, which will be of tremendous benefit to other communities in the region.” – Gaby Wickstrom, General Manager, ‘Namgis Business Development Corp.

“I am excited for this hydroponic farm project for the ‘Namgis First Nation to improve their food sovereignty and create a meaningful movement towards self-sufficiency. This production system will benefit local businesses and all members of the community.” – Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island

“We are excited to invest with the ‘Namgis First Nation on this innovative agritech project. This initiative is more than an economic boost. Its impact will create a resilient community by providing affordable, healthy food options locally, while also protecting them from supply chain disruptions. It’s a model that could transform food sovereignty across our region.” – Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust

About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our start, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $60 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $333 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,910 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Learn more About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Media Contacts

Jeff Bartlett
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Gaby Wickstrom
General Manager
‘Namgis Business Development Corp.