THUNDER BAY — It's a greenhouse you are not likely to see anywhere else in Thunder Bay.
If you pass by the Matawa Training and Wellness Centre on Algoma Street North you can't help but notice the geodesic dome that's been erected on the grounds of the former Dawson Court nursing home.
It will be used to grow vegetables and medicinal plants for staff and clients, and eventually for trainees and their families while they stay at the new facility being established by the Matawa Tribal Council.
Officials of the tribal council got the idea after learning that other communities in cold climates were using "garden domes" successfully, while gaining future protection against accelerated extreme weather events caused by climate change.
According to the Ontario manufacturer and distributor, the structure's tundra-tested design is made to withstand extreme winter weather and to maintain comfortable internal conditions year-round.
A Matawa spokesperson said the dome not only improves food security for community members by extending the growing season, but offers the opportunity to produce crops that might otherwise be difficult to nurture in Thunder Bay's climate.
She said planter boxes are expected to be installed in the dome this week, and crops will be planted soon after.
They will include the Indigenous "three sisters" – corn, squash and beans – as well as potatoes, onions, herbs, and the traditional medicines sage, sweetgrass and tobacco.