Year after year, Cascades lends its support to a variety of educational and entrepreneurial organizations, including Forces AVENIR, which recognizes young people’s dedication and involvement in community projects. As a partner in the Environment category of the 2016 Forces AVENIR Gala, Cascades is pleased to shine the spotlight on Université Laval’s AgroCité project. Our team had the pleasure of talking to Alexandre Chamberland, President of AgroCité.
What is AgroCité?
AgroCité is a group of students from Université Laval working to develop an urban agriculture business model. The group’s mission is to supply the university’s main cafeterias by growing garden produce locally using hydroponic and aquaponic systems. Our extracurricular project aims to support Université Laval in asserting its leading role in sustainable development by providing produce for the university community, educating it and raising awareness about consumption challenges of the 21st century. The goal: bring hydroponic production closer to the people.
Who is behind AgroCité?
Our multidisciplinary team is made up entirely of students from eight different university faculties. It comprises five committees—production, system design, R&D, communication and business development—as well as an executive committee and a board of directors.
Where did the greenhouse idea come from? And the idea to grow lettuce on campus?
The idea first came up in 2013 and it got off the ground in 2014 with a prototype project. Then a second and third prototype were implemented and we had our first harvest in fall 2014. We now systematically supply the L’Intégrale cafeteria at the Alexandre Vachon pavilion once a week. This summer, we even set up a hydroponic system right in one of the lobbies! And we’ve made several adjustments to improve our crops. We also installed an aquaponic system with live fish in the water to nourish the plants.
What other projects does AgroCité have up its sleeve?
Reproduce our concept throughout campus! Develop new products and services. Diversify production by growing other vegetables and fruits to sell directly to students. In the long term, we also want to develop a passive solar greenhouse on campus that would be a production and interpretation centre for the community. The university would become a feeder campus, providing fresh produce to the students. That’s our vision.
Winning an Environment AVENIR award doesn’t change the world, but…
It certainly gets people talking about the project! It confirms that we’re on the right track and that people believe in us. We’re really proud!