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Inside the Arctic Greenhouses Where the Summer Sun Never Sets

What do people who live in the Canadian Arctic Circle eat? You might think of the traditional Inuit meat-based diet, but that was destroyed by regulation and the establishment of permanent settlements. Food is imported from lower latitudes, but it is very expensive and rarely fresh. However, in the past couple of decades, greenhouses have sprung up on the Northwest Territories, even inside the Arctic Circle. Ray Solotki is executive director of the Inuvik Community Greenhouse, 120 miles inside the Arctic Circle, and she stays busy all summer.

“We don’t really have a cold problem like a lot of people think we do,” says Solotki. “We have a heat problem, because of the sunlight.” 24 hours of summer daylight keeps the greenhouse balmy, while accelerating vegetable growth. Crops grow so speedily here that in early July, three weeks into harvesting, Solotki merrily reported collecting over 220 pounds of food. The North’s midnight sun makes greenhouse gardening surprisingly productive, with everything from leafy greens, squash, tomatoes, and beds of flowers soaking up the extra light.

This greenhouse has operated since it was built in a converted hockey arena in 1998. Since then, greenhouses have sprung up in many very northern towns. Read about greenhouse gardening in the Arctic at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Inuvik Community Greenhouse)

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