Living in the heart of the city, Ryerson struggles with finding natural spaces to farm. With the quad being the only green space on campus, Ryerson has resorted to a more urban approach to traditional agriculture.
Feast your eyes (and taste buds) on Ryerson’s Urban Farm (RUF)—an agricultural oasis that provides 10,000 pounds of fresh produce to Ryerson cafeterias, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and the Gould Street farmers’ market.
Sitting and farming on top of the Engineering building, the farm is like any other farm equipped with harvested crops, the necessary tools and eager workers.
On campus, approximately 50 per cent of food served comes from locally grown gardens such as the Urban Farm. That means the kale in your salad or the sweet peppers on your pizza were probably grown a short elevator ride away. It’s hard to get any fresher than that.
Since starting out as a pilot project in 2013, workers, both students from the community, have mulched, irrigated and fertilized soil for crop production. In a five-year rotation, 30 crops are grown consisting of produce like squash, potatoes and edible flowers.
“We have to maximize the number of things you can grow as we are growing in such a limited space, but we make it work,” said Jayne Miles, the Urban Farm Programs Coordinator. They’re doing this with a few changes to their space.
In 2004, the primary green roof was built which later transformed into an ecological market garden by the Urban Farm in 2013. This developed out of a student-run initiative to produce fresh food on campus.
After only a year, the project was so successful that the RUF began to convert the entire green roof into a small garden market. The expansion was completed in 2015 and is still going strong due to a carefully designed garden.
The garden uses companion crops— produce grown together like carrots with onions and basil with tomato—that improve the flavour and growth of their neighbouring crop. A beehive was also installed at the end of June, producing 35 kilograms of honey that was sold to donors and is currently available for purchase at the Gould Street Market.