Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Institute for Sustainable Horticulture Opens with First Pre-Commercial Insect Incubator in Canada

Fri, Oct 16, 2009

(METRO VANCOUVER, B.C.) Five years after it was first conceived, the scientists at The Institute for Sustainable Horticulture are ready to begin their research and hope to soon begin work on pre-commercial production of microbial biocontrols for managing pests and diseases of food crops and ornamental plants.

The incubator facility contained in the ISH’s new research laboratory is the first of its kind in Canada. Institute Director Deborah Henderson says the work it will do will change the way we grow our food:

“We want to look at native strains of viruses and fungi and develop new biocontrol products for market that will target pests in all our major cropping systems.”

The laboratory which is now available for media tours includes growth chambers with plant and insect rearing rooms for predators and parasitoids. The institute will also link to Kwantlen’s School of Business - one of the largest in Western Canada – to commercialize its products.

Henderson says biological controls are less costly and more effective than pesticides and are ideal for the types of small local farms municipalities are trying to encourage and that people want given the increasing popularity of farmer’s markets.

“Food production is changing, and in the future the mass production of cheap produce in faraway places may not survive global warming, the increasing cost of the oil necessary to move it, and the threat of food borne illness.”

One of the mandates of the ISH will be to work with local municipalities to encourage production of locally grown produce on ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) land on the urban-rural fringe. Currently Kwantlen is working actively with Richmond, Surrey and Langley to develop a local food plan.

See Backgrounder for accompanying story

The ISH was established with a $2.27-million grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and a matching grant from the B.C. Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development. Kwantlen and the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation raised an additional $2.6-million from local farmers, private donors and foundations, including a $250,000 donation from Peter Dhillon, the President and CEO of the Richberry Group of Companies.

Its new leading-edge research facility will focus on innovations in biocontrol and on developing commercial applications for bio products to help build a sustainable and secure agri-food system.

The ISH is a partnership between the university, the industry and the community designed to meet the demand for more sustainability in horticulture.

For more information visit: or contact:

Deborah Henderson
ISH Director
LEEF Regional Innovation Chair
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
(Cell) 604-992-4606

Kent Mullinix 
Director Sustainable Agri-Food Systems
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
(O) 604-599-2540
(Cell) 604-612-1252

Harold Steves
Richmond Councillor
(H) 604-277-7759

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ISH Opening

ISH Opening
City of Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender chats with former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt and other guests.

ISH Opening  ISH Opening

ISH Opening  ISH Opening
David Atkinson, Kwantlen president and vice-chancellor (top left); Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of 
Children and Family Development, Minister Responsible for Child Care, MLA for Langley (top right);
Jason Dyer, executive director of Office of Research and Scholarship (bottom left); and Dr. Deborah
Henderson, director of ISH and LEEF chair (bottom right) give remarks during ISH opening.

ISH Opening
Institute for Sustainable Horticulture plaque unveiled.

ISH Opening  ISH Opening
Former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt gives a presentation after Kwantlen ISH opening ceremony (left photo)
and exchanges a handshake with Kwantlen president and vice-chancellor David Atkinson (right photo).