Thanks to Trent University student research, Ontario might grow more Quinoa!

4th year Trent University student in Environmental Science & Sustainable Agriculture,  Stephen Anderson, is passionate about one thing..…


And it is just a little grainy!!


This new health-superfood is high in protein and a good source nutrients with a low glycemic index.

Because of all of the nutritious benefits (and the “mmmm” factor), the demand for quinoa has risen sharply in recent years! People just can’t get enough of it – including right here in Ontario.

Through Stephen’s studies, he realized that there is a problem: quinoa is being grown and harvested in South America  – and then being shipped and consumed here in Canada.

In fact, the majority of quinoa (around 82%) is coming from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, releasing  greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation of the grain.

This led Stephen to wonder; why don’t we just grow more quinoa here in Ontario?


This could help support sustainable and long-lasting farming jobs in Ontario and provide local food security here at home. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,  Quinoa is anticipated to bring food security to the majority of the population over the next century – which means producing it here can provide more jobs and help reduce and a greenhouse gas emissions from offsetting transportation from around the world.

Stephen then designed his undergraduate thesis project on finding ways to lengthen the growing season of quinoa right here in Ontario.


Collaborating with Trent Alumni Jamie Draves (the CEO of Katan Kitchens in Rockwood), Stephen designed his research methods around 3 different types of quinoa  grains in 4 staggered sets that are already growing in the Trent University greenhouse in the environmental science building. Stephen is also working closely with Professor Tom  Hutchinson & Professor David Beresford.

Stephen has tested to see if the quinoa would be able to survive frost at -4 degrees Celcius.

He has been comparing and testing:

  • Mortality rates
  • Stem height
  • Canopy width
  • Leaf count
  • How frost affected them

So far, over half of them were able to survive the frost.

Stephen’s research will help provide answers to see the potential of the sustainable production market of quinoa here in Ontario.


Stephen tells us he is thrilled he chose Trent University to learn more about agriculture and feels as if his research is important and can be applied to real-world problems and can help provide some answers to local food security issues.

He tells us:

Trent University has provided an environment in which I am able to conduct undergraduate research that I am truly passionate about and feel will make a difference. Through the wonderful assistance of Trent University faculty, I have had access to incredible equipment, such as Trent’s Micro-Environment Chambers and to industrial partners whom share a vested interest in my research. As a student who aspires to work in research, doing these types of studies, to learn these skills and make these connections within my undergraduate education is truly an amazing opportunity.”

Thanks Stephen for your amazing research …

And we will take all this with a grain of quinoa 😉 



3 thoughts on “Thanks to Trent University student research, Ontario might grow more Quinoa!

  1. I am amazed at this presentation, the well thought out content and the pertinent subject matter. Stephen Anderson is definitely making a difference at the undergraduate level. I am proud of these up and coming students to whom we pass the torch… sustainable agriculture, sustainable teaching and enriched learning appear to continue to go hand in hand at Trent, my alma mater.
    Martha Lush ’64


    1. should read Martha Lush ’64 …… let me know if it is possible to edit the above..


  2. This is so inspiring to see. Rethinking and reforming our practices for a sustainable future is in the hands and hearts of our youth, and institutions which support this kind of envisioning deserve a Thank You. Thank You to Trent University for nurturing this forward-thinking discovery, and a big Congratulations to students such as Steve Anderson who are working hard to make our world a better place!


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