Supermarket food grown on its own roof in Montreal
Urban farming is a hugely exciting area - full of technological and biological innovation, but also very much tied to communities controlling and providing for themselves.
This Montreal project takes one of the most obvious mainstream institutions - the supermarket mall - and turns its area into an opportunity for local food production. An excerpt:
The Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent implemented a policy in 2015 requiring all new buildings to have a green or white roof on 50 percent of the surface. The Duchemin family, who owns the supermarket, IGA Extra, saw an opportunity to create an actual farm: 1.5 acres on the roof, with over 30 types of vegetables, sold under the brand Frais du toit (meaning, “Fresh from the roof”). They greened their roof, and are also producing food. Customers can even keep an eye on the rooftop production via a livestream feed in the vegetable aisle.
Tim Murphy, the project coordinator and urban gardener for La ligne verte, the company that installed and manages the rooftop farm, told me that this project is ‘’an innovation for consumers and supermarkets in Quebec.’’ According to him, it has ‘’enormous potential to raise consumer awareness about local, healthy, ecologically responsible and seasonal food.’’
The store managers are also learning firsthand about the work of farmers and the many challenges they face, from climate and insects to fertilisers and planning for production in terms of clients’ demands and tastes.