Rooftop garden produces pickup truck’s weight of food

A panoramic photo of the rooftop taken during the farm tour, on Oct. 27, 2015 using an iPhone. (Yara Kashlan/ Ryersonian Staff)

A panoramic photo of the rooftop taken during the farm tour, on Oct. 27, 2015 using an iPhone. (Yara Kashlan/ Ryersonian Staff)

How much food can grow on top of a building in downtown Toronto over a single season? About the weight of a pickup truck if you’re Rye’s HomeGrown (RHG). The building is the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre.

RHG wrapped up the season with its Fall Harvest Party on Oct. 27, celebrating the 3,629 kilograms of produce harvested.

The garden was open to the public for tours and garlic planting.

“(Garlic) is typically planted during the fall, and then it sprouts during the spring,” said Jenna Chiandet, RHG’s program co-ordinator.

The party, held in the International Living/Learning Centre (ILLC), showcased a small musical ensemble and snacks prepared by Ryerson Eats chefs using the garden’s produce.

“Each dish highlights a main thing that’s in season right now,” said Chiandet.

At the end of a long season of hard work, the party is an opportunity to thank the community for their support, said Arlene Throness, RHG’s urban agriculture co-ordinator.

“All the people who have come to the farmers’ market, or come to our volunteer sessions and helped grow the food and buy the food … it’s an exciting time to get everyone together and just celebrate,” Throness said.

Awards were handed out to key RHG contributors, volunteers and interns.

RHG will have another event next month — the last of the year — for volunteers to drop in and help prepare the garden beds for winter.

“We’ll do any harvesting that we need to do then, and then we are just going to close it down,” said Cindy Pham, RHG outreach co-ordinator.

As for next year’s planting, RHG will look at this year’s sales and crop success to decide what to keep or change, according to Pham.

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