Natural Health and Food Products Research Group celebrates 20 years with living wall

5 people standing beside a living wall of plants
BCIT NRG researchers and Ernie Janzen (far right) with the newly planted living wall.

The BCIT Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG) designed and constructed a living wall of medicinal plants to celebrate its 20th year. The living wall embodies the group’s central work connecting the complex chemistry in plants to human health.

NRG addresses issues of product quality, process improvement, and human health using basic and applied science along with state of the art technology. The group’s goal is to ensure that all Canadians can achieve the potential health and economic benefits offered by medicinal plants, natural health products, and the food industry.

NRG has been studying plant chemistry for 20 years and is led by BCIT Canada Research Chair Dr. Paula Brown.

Keeping it in the BCIT family

empty living wall
The pre-planting of the living wall.

BCIT applied researchers came together to bring the living wall to life. Maureen Connelly, BCIT’s resident living wall expert, assisted in getting this project off the ground. Dr. Connelly provided a base of information on living wall systems before passing the torch to By Nature, a company started by BCIT alumnus Nicholas Rousseau who earned his master’s degree at BCIT under Dr. Connelly. With a planting system secured, the team turned to Ernie Janzen of the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation Lab to design and construct the frame using state-of-the-art lab and equipment from the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI).

The plants chosen for this wall are tropical plants that are familiar to us for their ornamental characteristics. These plants are used for their medicinal properties in their native countries.

Living wall lives its best life

woman standing beside living wall of plants
NRG researcher Hazrah Moothoo with the living wall during Ecocity Summit in Vancouver.

NRG’s living wall has been on the move since it was made with trips to Vancouver Ecocity, BCIT Big Info, Student Biotech Awards, the BCIT Scholarship Awards Ceremony and the Distinguished Alumni Awards where NRG researcher Jamie Finley was honoured.

If you would like to see the living wall, please visit the BCIT Centre for Applied Research and Innovation located across the street from the BCIT Burnaby campus. Visitors are welcome to stop by to check out fascinating displays and enjoy a coffee or lunch at the renowned BFL Café.

The Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI) is the home of BCIT’s dedicated research groups, MAKE+NRGSMARTREDLab and 10 supporting labs. CARI has been a hub of multi-disciplinary research and development projects for business and industry for 30 years.

CARI is holding bi-weekly tours through June 2020.  Take a tour with CARI.

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