U of S rooftop garden practices farm to fork feeding on campus

SASKTOON - A unique rooftop garden project promoting sustainable agricultural practices and urban farming is taking root on the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) campus this summer.

“This is the other face of agriculture—urban agriculture,” said Grant Wood, a professor in the U of S College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

Located on a sunny, triangle-shaped roof visible from the above-ground walkway between the Biology and Agriculture Buildings, Wood said the garden will grow tomatoes, hot peppers, lettuce, kale and spinach.

“We might try a few other things, too,” said Wood, who teaches a class on urban agriculture. “I want to try zucchini, just to see. They’re a warm season crop. We’re going to try some cucumbers as well and see how they respond.”

What makes this rooftop garden unique, Wood continued, is that it is one of only a few at a Canadian university where food production is intended to be used on campus by Culinary Services. Additionally, other campus groups are involved to ensure as little waste as possible from the process.

Compost material from Facilities Management Division (FMD) is used in the garden to help grow the veggies that Culinary Services will use on its menu. FMD and Culinary Services also operate a large-scale food dehydrator, which dries down any waste products and gives it back to FMD for its compost that can be used again in the containers. And so the cycle continues.

“We’ve got the loop—not many universities in Canada do that,” said Wood, adding that local food production is of great importance. “We talk food miles—this is food feet. It’s physically less than a mile from Culinary Services to the compost site at FMD.”

The relatively inexpensive project—with the main costs being labour, soilless mix  and seeds— is a testament to urban farming, said Wood, noting that that a third of the degree students in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources are graduates from urban high schools. “They see agriculture through different eyes than rural students.”

The garden is tentatively planned for five years. An expansion proposal is already in the works that would double the growing area on the south roof and also utilize the roof area on the other side of the tunnel—though shadier, it still holds a lot of potential, he said.

“We can grow veggies in urban settings. This is just one other place to grow them.”

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For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma, Media Relations Specialist

University of Saskatchewan



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