Alberta Avenue Community League’s garden continues to expand. The league partnered with Exceed Solar, an Edmonton-based company that is set to supply a solar-powered greenhouse for the space. Exceed Solar is donating a portion of the labour and building materials while also partnering with Alberta Avenue in their fundraising efforts.

The greenhouse will be one of the first of its kind to be installed, and it was designed to push the limits of a traditional residential greenhouse. 

“The whole purpose of the greenhouse was [to] take a normal greenhouse and extend it beyond its seasonality in Canada or in cold climate weather,” says Elliott Putters, the CEO of Exceed Solar. The organization designed the greenhouse in partnership with the University of Alberta, and the original prototype was built at the university in the East Campus Gardens.

The greenhouse features a northern insulated wall that retains heat, and a solar-powered air source heat pump that can both heat and cool the space. The greenhouse’s ability to cool the space is important since temperatures are reaching above 30 degrees starting as early as May. 

“We also build in sensors to our greenhouse so that we can monitor the indoor conditions of the greenhouse,” explains Putters.  

The greenhouse also has a windowless potting shed that’s completely insulated, notes Karen Mykietka, the facility manager at the league. Since the shed is insulated, it would be easy to keep warm with only a small heater, and with the help of grow lights, it would be a good place to start plants during the cold season. 

“The plans are to use [the greenhouse] as a three-season greenhouse because that winter season can be very expensive to keep the greenhouse warm,” says Mykietka. But she says they’re willing to see how far they can push the greenhouse. 

The greenhouse has several main benefits. Most importantly, it allows gardeners to start their plants sooner in the season. “You can get at the very least a month, potentially two months, earlier in the season than you would normally. So you’re starting with a bit of a head start on the season,” notes Putters. “You can potentially get another crop cycle out of the season.”

“It would be a great way to extend our season later into the fall and to start things [earlier] in the spring,” says Mykietka. “We could start a lot more of our own flowers, and gardeners can start veggies.”

Additionally, the greenhouse is another lovely space in which the community can gather. As Putters points out, this factor is a crucial element of a community garden. 

Currently, the greenhouse is in the process of being built. Alberta Avenue built the base of the greenhouse, and Exceed Solar is building the greenhouse on top of that. Putters says that it takes two to three weeks for construction to be completed. 

For Putters, deciding to put the greenhouse in at Alberta Avenue was an easy decision. “We chose Alberta Ave because quite frankly, I think they’re the community in Edmonton that really deserves it,” says Putters. “I find the residents of Alberta Ave are incredibly proud of their community. They have a beautiful community garden with plenty of space there, and we have a product that we feel fits the needs of the community. It would be a perfect showcase for that product to other communities as well.”

The league is considering running workshops and classes out of the greenhouse in the fall. A gala unveiling the greenhouse will happen later this summer.  

Mya is a student working toward a career in journalism and communications. Writing is one of her passions, besides baking and playing trombone.