Putting a lid on it
Greenhouse roof finished just in time for winter

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Oct 08/99) - Inuvik's Community Garden Society capped off its first growing season last week by capping off its new greenhouse -- the massive, renovated Grollier Hall arena.

Society director Peter Clarkson that while the greenhouse's new roof won't allow for year-round cultivation, it will have some measurable benefits.

"We can't work on planting through the winter but the greenhouse will extend the growing season by one-and-a-half months," he said.

Indeed, green-thumbed Inuvik residents were still harvesting potatoes last week though, sadly, the tomatoes couldn't take the frost and bought the farm, so to speak.

Contractor Harley Matthew said the new greenhouse may be the largest in the Arctic, though he said those health-conscious Norwegians have also been known to harvest veggies North of 60. Like many members, Matthew said he came to the society first and foremost as a plant lover but has donated countless hours of labour and expertise. But what keeps him going?

"The satisfaction," he said. "You can put that in Ripley's Believe It or Not, but it's true."

Though Matthew said he had to devote more time to his own business in late summer, he'll back to the greenhouse with the end of the building season.

"The greenhouse is about 75 per cent done," he said, "but still needs dry-walling, plumbing and sealing and the offices need to be finished."

Matthew said the society's fund-raising bingos were a success -- and in fact Clarkson and Ted McLeod are currently down in Guelph Ont., harvesting helpful hints at the garden city's Greenhouse Show.

Matthew also said workers are focusing on the greenhouse's commercial space, a 4,000 square-foot area where vegetables will be grown and sold to keep the project up and running.

Clarkson said of the house's 30 public plots, several have been reserved for elders, the Turning Point society and for Sir Alexander Mackenzie school.

One group that already got their hands dirty were the members of the Charlotte Venus Home and the Community Group Home. Manager Ruth Nevett called the project a success and said three residents got down to the greenhouse to do some planting this summer -- but, alas, it was their tomato plants that bit the dust.

"We got them in pretty late so they didn't come to bear fruit, but I think next year we'll get in there earlier and try it again."