Controlled environment agriculture and containerized food production in northern North America


  • Alex Wilkinson University of Calgary
  • Craig Gerlach University of Calgary
  • Meriam Karlsson University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Henry Penn University of Calgary



Controlled Environment Agriculture, Northern and Subarctic Communities, Containerized Food Production Systems, Food Security, Local Food Production


There is an ongoing debate about the role of con­trolled environment agriculture and containerized food production in local food systems in Northern North American communities. Some critics dismiss these applications as ineffective, arguing that because they marginalize certain populations they do not have a place in northern food systems. However, such critiques are premature and under­mine what may prove to be an important and com­plementary component of local and regional food systems in the north, particularly if designed and implemented in a culturally appropriate and place-based context. Containerized food production can offer enhanced food production capabilities for communities through year-round production. While there are still concerns about proper growing protocols, scalability, output, durability, and economics, these can be addressed, modified and improved through research and continued applica­tions. New opportunities requiring further explora­tion in the application of containerized food pro­duction systems include, but are not limited to, integrative systems design, the enhancement of community development initiatives, and the inte­gration of the social networks that are necessary for diversified local food production.


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Author Biographies

Alex Wilkinson, University of Calgary

Ph.D. Candidate, Research Analyst, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

Craig Gerlach, University of Calgary

Professor, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

Meriam Karlsson, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environment

Henry Penn, University of Calgary

Ph.D., Arctic Institute of North America



How to Cite

Wilkinson, A., Gerlach, C., Karlsson, M., & Penn, H. (2021). Controlled environment agriculture and containerized food production in northern North America. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(4), 127–142.