SMART Farming for Inclusivity
Thousands of young adults in Canada suffer from some form of intellectual disability. Many have skills. can learn quickly but need some help finding programs and support to allow them access to earn a living and be part of a community.
Indoor farming is on the rise as it is both sustainable and provides communities with local food. The Niagara region is home to more than 250 greenhouses and 18.2 million sq ft of growing space.
Aquaponics is a greenhouse standard for growing and aeroponics is an emerging technology that can utilize any building as natural light is not required making this flexible and independent of mother nature. This also opens up possibilities for locations making local more achievable.
The skills required to grow, select and sort crops like lettuce and herbs possess many of the qualities of work that is well suited to many with cognitive impairments.
SMARTlab's research can help develop new growing systems that are accessible and affordable. These systems can provide opportunities for new work. When we combine inclusivity, sustainability and local, young adults who have been challenged to find work because of intellectual disability can find meaningful employment and help supply their communities with fresh delicious food.