Ryerson’s urban farm and environmental green roof is on a mission to grow food to feed the city.
The Andrew and Valerie Pringle environmental green roof can be found on top of the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre.
On any given day, you can find students and staff harvesting the garden while surrounded by the constant construction of the city.
The urban farm is building its own type of food diversity and sustainability, producing a cornucopia of squashes, pumpkins, melons, 60 ft. of buckwheat and an array of edible flowers. Its candy cane beets and cayenne hot peppers also won first place at the Canadian National Exhibition vegetable competition this year.
With its growing popularity on campus, the Ryerson urban farm launched weekly public tours for individuals through June and October. The tours cost $7 for students, $10 for the public and are held every Friday from 1-2 p.m.
Programs coordinator Jayne Miles has found that people are digging into the idea of urban farming.
“Urban farming provides super fresh, local food to cities,” says Miles.
“It also creates learning opportunities around gardening and is an important nature connection for urban dwellers, and raises awareness about urban ecology.”
Since its launch in 2014, the farm has produced 10,000 lbs (4,500 kilograms) of food annually.
Ryerson Urban Farming has offered all the ecological services of a green roof, helping to reduce storm water overflow, mitigate the urban heat island effect through plants’ natural transpiration process, reduce heating and cooling pressures on the building, and add biodiversity to the city.
A rooftop garden offers the unique opportunity for people to connect with their food. The produce harvested from the rooftop garden is sold at the Farmer’s Market on Gould Street every Wednesday from 11-3 p.m. The leftover produce is given to the Good Food Centre at Ryerson.
The proceeds from these public tours will be funding Ryerson Urban Farming’s plan to manage the eighth floor green roof of the new Health Sciences building. This would be an extension of their current ecological market garden on the engineering building.
Their first growing season is anticipated to be in 2019.