Autism Society to Establish Clean Technology Greenhouse

From: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

New social enterprise greenhouse will generate economic and social benefits

February 11, 2019 – St. John’s, NL – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Supporting social enterprise and clean technology helps create new jobs, strengthens and diversifies our communities and fosters environmental sustainability.

The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (ASNL) is establishing a year-round social enterprise greenhouse that will use clean technology to produce sustainable food products, as well as provide skills training and new employment opportunities for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

ASNL will build a new greenhouse that will operate from natural sunlight during the standard growing season and generate heat and light using solar photovoltaic modules during winter. The greenhouse will be built on site at the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism and will enable ASNL to produce larger volumes of healthy food to be used at its social enterprise restaurant – the Pantry Café & Catering.

This initiative will also create two full-time and four seasonal jobs for individuals with ASD and one other full-time position. The greenhouse will become an important addition to the society’s social enterprise skills and employment program, Good Roots Gardening, and improve the organization’s overall long-term sustainability.

That is why the Government of Canada is providing a non-repayable contribution of $60,000 and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is contributing $50,785 to the project.

Nick Whalen, Member of Parliament for St. John’s East, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and the Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation (TCII), made the announcement today.

These investments build on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which involves targeted actions to create opportunities for all Atlantic Canadians. This includes investments that support its Innovation and Skills Plan to build a better Canada where everyone has the jobs, skills and learning to strengthen communities and grow the economy.

“The Government of Canada believes that public investment is an important catalyst that spurs economic growth, job creation and broad-based prosperity. We are pleased to partner with non-profit organizations in important projects like this one with the ASNL, which will provide those living with ASD with meaningful employment, help make our communities stronger and grow our economy for the benefit of all Canadians.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“The social enterprise sector is important to economic development and community diversification and I commend the ASNL for its leadership in this key aspect of our economy. I am delighted that our government is investing in this exciting social enterprise project, which will see the ASNL build the first efficient greenhouse of its kind in the province and enable the society to expand upon the great work it does to improve the lives of those with ASD, while also having a positive economic impact on the province.”

– Nick Whalen, Member of Parliament for St. John’s East

“Our government is committed to supporting social enterprise activity and partnership development in our province. This initiative between Autism NL, Trades NL and Iron & Earth East aligns with our government’s Social Enterprise Action Plan, by supporting collaboration between social enterprises and the private sector while serving as a model for sustainable development and energy conservation.”

– The Honourable Christopher Mitchelmore, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

“Autism Society NL’s ‘365 Greenhouse Project’ has been a community effort in every way. The greenhouse will be a place people can visit to see renewable energy in action. Services and supports for adults on the spectrum are very limited. Our focus with Good Roots Gardening, our newest social enterprise, is giving participants a better chance to be more actively engaged in the community. Support from ACOA and the Province will help grow employment, on-the-job training, goal-setting and teamwork. These adults will be set up for success in the world of work.”

– Scott Crocker, Chief Executive Officer, Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador

Quick facts

    • The Government of Canada is investing $60,000 in this project through ACOA’s Business Development Program (BDP). The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is contributing $50,785, Trades NL is providing $120,000 and ASNL is contributing $55,000 toward this project. Iron and Earth East is also providing solar panels and other in-kind support for this project.

    • Incorporated in 1987, ASNL is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the development of individual, lifelong and community-based supports and services for people with ASD, their families and caregivers.

    • ASNL is headquartered in St. John’s at the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism where vocational, behavioral and life skills programming is offered to adults and children affected by ASD. Satellite offices are located in Clarenville, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook.

    • ASNL operates two social enterprises, Pantry Café & Catering and Good Roots Gardening, which are key components of ASNL’s programming.

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