Sustainability

Living sustainably at Fircom

 
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Zero Waste


Zero waste at Camp Fircom

At Camp

Camp Fircom aspires to be a zero-waste facility. We are an off-grid facility without access to waste services, which means everyone at camp needs to take responsibility for their own consumption.

At meals, there are always seconds and no one goes hungry, but we ask people to take what they need and eat what they take. Through the composting system of an insulated composter and garden composters, NO food waste is created in the dining room.

We also find innovative solutions to waste we cannot control, such as using cardboard boxes from food orders as mulch in the garden and recycling plastic packaging, bottles and cans whenever possible.  


When renting our facilities

Rental groups are asked to “pack in and pack out” the waste they create in accommodations and program spaces. Our staff will help groups manage, sort and pack up their waste so it can be properly disposed of in the city.

 
Zero waste when renting at Camp Fircom

Farm & Orchard

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In 2011, Fircom began its journey into organic farming using permaculture principles. From previously compacted, barren soil, 1/2 an acre of vegetable production and a 1/4 acre of fruit trees were brought to life.

 

Fircom farm and orchard

Our farm and orchard are an attempt to achieve a harmonious balance with the natural world through organic farming. How lightly can we tread upon the earth? How does the earth respond when we care for it and cultivate it thoughtfully? These are the questions we seek to find answers to at Camp Fircom. Much of the harvest from the farm ends up in beautiful meals or in the amazing salad bar served at lunch and dinner. Being served 30 meters from where it was grown is as local as it gets. 


Farm Facts

  • Every year, the farm processes more than three tonnes of organic waste annually into rich fertile soil to provide a feast of vegetables

  • We will grow as many vegetables as possible. Some favourites include: carrots, garlic, greens, beans and squashes.

  • Our orchard is home to a number of fruit trees such as: plums, apples, raspberries, cherries, pears, and gooseberries.

Farm facts

Deer on Fircom Farm

Want to See Our Farm?

We’d be happy to have you come and take a tour with your church or school group! You can also arrange farm programming or request a mini farm market during your rental. Market availability is based on the season and staffing ability and will vary. We have also started piloting a veggie garden box purchased weekly for neighbours in the summer and fall months. Email or call the Fircom office to get involved with the farm.

Want to work on the farm?

The Fircom Farm accepts volunteers between April to October to be a part of our community and learn more about farming. Volunteers are asked stay for a minimum of 2 days, but ideally a week or two at a time in the busier garden months to help with all farm tasks and education programs. Our Hands-in-the-dirt education is infused with information about topics such as crop planning, plant and soil management, permaculture, livestock-poultry and much more! All volunteers stay at the camp and are provided meals for free. Water taxi costs can be covered depending on the length of stay.

Renewable Energy

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Fircom’s remote location provides guests with the unique experience of being “off the grid,” without sacrificing the luxury of everyday amenities. We are responsible for providing our own clean drinking water, sanitation, heat and energy.

 

Fircom provides an example of renewal energy

Fircom is committed to setting an example in how we provide these amenities by reducing our diesel consumption and the carbon we release into the atmosphere. This means thoughtful design of all systems that rely on electricity, as well as teaching staff, guests and kids about energy conservation strategies.


History

Building Fircom's renewable energy system has been an incremental process. Since 1923, Fircom has been an off-grid experience. Staff and guests from 1970's to the end of the century would experience Fircom in a very different way. At ten PM every evening, the lights would blink out as we shut down the generators, silence would wrap around the entire site, and the darkness would make a sea of stars burst out of the sky.

When we re-opened our doors in 2010 the site renovation included a brand new power system offering 24-hour electricity to our guests. While this met some needs, it was far from sustainable and we work to make important improvements and reduce the number of hours required to operate the diesel generators. The dream is to silence the generators once and for all and to be 90% renewably powered by 2020. We still like to turn out all the lights at about ten pm and watch the stars.

Camp Fircom’s history

Future energy renewal plans

Future Plans

So what are the next steps in this incremental process of providing renewable power to Fircom?

Our next plan is to pursue installation of a 5.5 kilowatt turbine on Fircom Creek to capture some of the energy of the rushing water and turn it into electricity. Based on our studies, this could supply 75-100% of our winter-time electrical needs or 10 generator hours per day between October to April. That translates to 50 litres less of diesel per day for 180 days, which totals 9,000 litres, or 24 tonnes of CO2. That's a beautiful complement to our summer-use solar panels. We estimate that completing this project would save $8,000 to $10,000 in fuel costs annually. This project will cost in the neighbourhood of $45,000 - $65,000 to complete. So far we have a generous commitment from the Nickle Family Foundation for the first $7,200. This will get us off to a good start and will move us through the engineering and permitting processes.

We are looking forward to the 2018 installation of a new battery set and an additional 35kW of solar panels to supplement our spring, summer and fall power production.


 

If you would like to learn more about our energy system or take a tour contact our site manager. We’d be happy to tell you more about our energy system and future plans!