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Living Lab

Four members of the Living Lab team standing between rows of produce on the Urban Farm.

The Ryerson Urban Farm Living Lab was established in 2019 as a collaborative research platform that brings urban farmers, community partners and academics together to conduct interdisciplinary research centred around rooftop farming. The Living Lab aims to further the Urban Farm’s mission to build capacity for rooftop farming through production, research and engagement by building on user-driven research needs that respond to the challenges of designing and operating a rooftop farm using green roof technology.

The Living Lab is possible thanks to the generous support and funding from Andrew and Valerie Pringle.

Living Lab supported initiatives

In addition to the current supported research projects on the rooftop farm, Living Lab funding has provided support to several other initiatives addressing food justice, farmer-led research and learning opportunities, including: 

  • Black and Indigenous-led pilot programs, which aim to engage community members in selecting, growing and harvesting culturally significant crops;
  • Farmer-led research within the Urban Farm’s field activities and operations, such as the mapping of standard operating procedures (SOP), generating crop planning tools and reference charts for yield and spacing, and developing rooftop soil amendment strategies; and
  • Hosting two online soil health panels in fall 2020 as part of a series called Growing Better Rooftops: A Soil Health Panel, that discussed strategies for optimizing soil health in green roof media for food production. 

Governance model

The Living Lab is governed by an advisory committee, a management committee and is conducted in partnership with the Centre for Studies in Food Security, with principal investigator Fiona Yeudall and research coordinator Sharene Shafie.

Research submissions and guidelines

Learn more about the Living Lab research process and proposal submission guidelines by visiting our research applications and requests page.