The Growcer installs hydroponics system on University of Ottawa campus

Corey Ellis
The Growcer cofounder Corey Ellis.

The Growcer has returned to its University of Ottawa roots, this time installing its hydroponics system on campus to contribute to the cafeteria’s produce supply.

The Ottawa-based hydroponics startup installed one of its converted shipping containers on campus in front of Fauteux Hall Tuesday. Produce grown inside will be sold directly to Chartwell, the post-secondary institution’s food supplier.

Students eating at the on-campus cafeteria, then, will be eating food grown by one of the University of Ottawa’s own startups. The Growcer got its start at the school’s Enactus program, a social entrepreneurship initiative.

Now graduated, co-founder Corey Ellis and his partner Alida Burke were first inspired to start the Growcer during a trip to Nunavut. There, they saw first-hand the demand for food security in Canada’s North.

Ellis recently told Techopia Live that the Growcer’s goal is to enable any community in Canada to be more more self-reliant when it comes to food.

“We can do a lot with the technology we have now to allow any community, not only in northern Canada, but in Canada in general, to be more self-reliant. So I’d love to see a Growcer system in every major city in Canada,” he said.

A retrofitted shipping container with a carbon dioxide-and-water-based hydroponics system inside is enough to sustainably grow plants and vegetables in northern communities, or for that matter, during an Ottawa winter. The local firm worked with MadeMill at Bayview Yards to develop the latest generation of its prototype.