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About

The Ryerson Urban Farm operates productive growing spaces across the Ryerson University campus using spray-free, ecological methods. We offer educational programming to the public and engage with student and faculty researchers. Through these programs, we aim to build capacity for urban agriculture through production, education and research.

Rooftop farm

Our main production space is a quarter-acre rooftop farm located on the Andrew and Valerie Pringle Environmental Green Roof above the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre. The original green roof was built in 2004 and converted to a farm in 2013, designed in the traditional market garden style. The Urban Farm grows roughly 8,000 to 10,000 lbs. of produce annually.

Learn more about our produce.

Beehives

In partnership with Alvéole, external link and with the generous support of Rodney Yip, three beehives on the roof produce 116 lbs. of unpasturized honey in 2018.  

2018 season

2018 was another successful growing season! Our team grew to three full-time staff, four Career Boost student staff and 2 interns from France.

Together we produced 9,000 lb of vegetables, which was distributed to Harvest Share members, sold to the Ryerson Market, Ryerson Eats and local restaurants.

Besides these retail avenues, we donated approximately $2,500 of produce to the Ryerson Good Food Centre, external link which supports students with emergency food relief.

We also participated in off-campus field research at places like Black Creek Community Farm, external linkTrent University’s Market Garden, external link and PACT Grow-to-Learn. , external link

Project history

The project was founded as a student initiative in 2011, under the name Rye’s HomeGrown. Under the mentorship of the Centre for Studies in Food Security and faculty across disciplines, the group worked with Facilities Management and Development to identify underutilized space that could be repurposed for food production, learning and engagement.

Milestones

2004 | Hitesh Doshi, professor of Architectural Science, initiated the construction of a green roof on the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre. It was planted with daylilies and was named the Andrew and Valerie Pringle Environmental Green Roof, in honour of its founding donors.

2009 | The City of Toronto became the first city in North America to pass a bylaw requiring all new buildings over 2,000 square metres and above six storeys to include a green roof. Doshi led a research team that informed the Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw along with municipal policies throughout the world.

2011 | Nutrition students Catherine Lung and Stephanie Nishi founded Rye’s HomeGrown under the mentorship of professor Fiona Yeudall in the Centre for Studies in Food Security. They planted edible gardens throughout campus in collaboration with Facilities Management and Development (FMD) and created opportunities for experiential learning and research through an advisory committee of faculty members from across disciplines.

2013 | Facilities Management and Development invited Catherine Lung to conduct a feasibility study and pilot project for the conversion of the green roof into a farm. A team was assembled for project expansion, including Kim Fox and Arlene Throness.

2014 to 2015 | The conversion of the roof to farm was completed. The project joined the department of Food Services under University Business Services.

2016 to 2017 | The project was renamed Ryerson Urban Farm and became a department within University Business Services (UBS).

2018 | Construction of a second rooftop farm on the Daphne Cockwell Complex began and is due to be complete in 2019. This will be the first purpose-built green roof for food production under the established Toronto Green Roof By-law. Meanwhile, with the purpose of improving accessibility and increasing production, upgrades to the Andrew and Valerie Pringle Environmental Green Roof commenced, and are due to be complete in 2019.