Envision Saint John: The Regional Growth Agency is working with entrepreneurs and leaders in the ecosystem. We are collectively designing a high-potential innovation play for our region.
Growing upon on Vancouver Island, Mackenzie Terjesen was surrounded by local produce, farmer’s markets, and fresh food in every season.
In 2015 Mackenzie joined the Canadian Armed Forces and moved East. Fast forward seven years and he is building a life in the Saint John region, including a business that aims to bring the accessible fresh food Mackenzie was used to in every season, to tables across New Brunswick.
“Since the time I left B.C. I had been building small-scale bionic farming systems and I was absolutely in love with it,” Mackenzie explained. “I had decided that it was something that I wanted to try and do as a career.”
Diving headfirst into market research, Mackenzie was amazed to discover that New Brunswick is only eight per cent self-sufficient in producing fruit and vegetables.
“It just blew my mind we are 92 per cent reliant on imports.”
Throw in a pandemic and logistic issues and Mackenzie saw his small bionic systems set up as a real solution to food security and sustainability, and FLO Nation Farms was born.
Mackenzie hit the ground running and quickly established a partnership with Dorchester Consolidated School – building an aquaponic classroom. It was a series of connections that came from working in a close-knit community, which led to this innovative collaboration.
“I was talking to the Cooperative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick and was connected to one of the teachers from the school,” he explained. I was looking for funding for my business, and he was looking for a grant or a donation to put a small hydroponic system in the school to teach the kids about growing food. The council linked us up and it went from a tiny hydroponics system to raising $20,000 to build a full classroom.”
During his time working with Dorchester Consolidated School, Mackenzie was also a full-time student at NBCC, and was provided the opportunity to take part in Spark NB’s province wide competition for early-stage innovation companies. FLO Nation Farms was awarded $10,000 to assist in expanding and fully launching a business.
His goal is to be completely operational by the end of 2022 – and with support and connections through Envision Saint John: The Regional Growth Agency, Mackenzie’s business is gaining momentum.
“We’re finally getting some traction and I’ve been put in touch with some pretty fantastic people,” he said. “There’s potential partnerships and investments and it’s just a matter of finalizing everything.”
With a scalable business plan in place, FLO Nation Farms plans to launch a pilot farm in the Saint John region.
“We want to supply Southern New Brunswick and then keep expanding from there,” MacKenzie said. “Our goal is to be in every major Canadian city in the next five to 10 years.”
If you are interested in discovering opportunities for your business to start, scale or expand contact Envision Saint John at email@example.com.