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Growing People: The Vermillion Growers Team

September 28, 2020

This month we introduce a new series for our blog. Considering our tagline, “Growing Food, Growing People, Growing Communities,” we will focus on the center one – Growing People – and introduce you to some of the most valuable resources we have at Vermillion.

This month, we want you to learn more about the person who, day to day, manages our build, from design process to boots-on-the-ground construction. Designing and building Manitoba’s first greenhouse of its kind requires someone with attention to detail at the helm, passion for our industry, and a strong engineering background. Add the ability to communicate with a variety of audiences, from workers to vendors to owners, and the complete description matches our Project Engineer.

Enter Cormac Foster, EIT, Manitoba born, bred, and educated. EIT stands for, “Engineer In Training”, but let’s be clear: Cormac is an Engineer, through and through. In fact, Cormac has always been a builder. It all started with Lego when Cormac was a baby.

“I’ve got pictures of me in diapers, sitting on the ground, with a pile of (Lego) bricks around me,” he proudly claims.

Cormac learned about the building blocks and their use, and further declared his passion for building and engineering as genuine and practical by pursuing a Biological Systems Engineering Degree from the University of Manitoba, with a specific study of Environmental Engineering. This background assists Vermillion Growers significantly, as Cormac’s knowledge guides and assists us through our specific project of precision agriculture in our state-of-the-art glass greenhouse.

“A greenhouse is very different than a typical commercial project,” Cormac says. “You have to be thinking about, ‘how does every aspect of the building, on the design side, affect the growth of a plant,’ ” he relates.

Beyond his education, and before he came to work with us, Cormac worked on a cold climate greenhouse prototype, has construction experience, and has worked with food sustainability. All of these meld into the perfect combination for our needs, and all reasons we love having Cormac as our Project Engineer. One of the most unique aspects of Cormac’s life was being a contestant on the second season of CTV’s Amazing Race Canada. Teamed up with his Mom, Cormac embarked on a competitive journey, filled with obstacles and detours. What Cormac learned from the race is a life lesson he applies to his work on a daily basis. As Cormac, puts it,

“The life experience I really did gain from that is just strengthening my ability to be adaptable.”

The first non-principal team member at Vermillion Growers, Cormac is able to draw on his adaptability as he negotiates tough challenges, COVID-19 being merely one of them, all while managing a team to build our project from the ground up. Cormac, like all of us at Vermillion Growers, believes in a good work-life balance. When not at work, he enjoys the outdoors – camping and canoeing, especially. And he maintains a pretty impressive Lego collection. He still builds with Lego, as he tempers his engineering and building interests with a little creativity.

At the same time, Cormac’s personal desire to make a difference in the world of food sovereignty links his passion for Vermillion Growers’ triple bottom line of protecting people, planet, and profit to working with us. He also personally maintains a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and nutrition. Like all of us, Cormac can’t wait for when our first phase is complete and we are up and running.

“I’m looking forward to when we can have a crate of fresh tomatoes, in the middle of winter, to add to my meal prep."