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Experiential learning meets entrepreneurial passion

A Ryerson student-led project is reducing produce costs in Nunavut by using technology to grow food locally and sustainably.

Northern communities can pay food costs up to four times greater than the rest of Canada, and 79% of families in Nunavut live with food insecurity.

In 2017, the initiative external,won a $250,000 prize from Google Impact Challenge. The challenge asked Canadian nonprofits to share their best ideas for how to use technology to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems. More than 900 nonprofits applied. The team is now planning to build two more greenhouses in a second Nunavut community.

A team of Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) students launched the external,Growing North project with a goal of cutting produce costs in half, starting in the 1,000-person hamlet of Naujaat, Nunavut. Collaborating with the community, the students erected an innovative dome greenhouse incorporating passive solar design, hydroponics and vertical farming technologies to grow 20,000 pounds of fresh food a year with just 4 hours of sunlight a day.

Growing North is based out of the SocialVentures Zone, one of 10 zones at Ryerson that support our focus on experiential and integrated learning. Students collaborate across multiple disciplines with guidance from faculty and industry mentors to pursue new projects. For his efforts, Growing North co-founder Ben Canning was awarded 2016 Student Entrepreneur for Ontario by external,Enactus Canada, the country’s largest student leadership development organization. Enactus Ryerson also won Enactus Canada recognition for Growing North – Ryerson University was named the 2016 Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge National Champion.

At Ryerson, our external,zone learning model offers students the opportunity to explore their passions outside the classroom – it empowers them to generate entrepreneurial solutions to challenges, creating genuine social and economic impact in our communities.