Looking back at the 2013 urban agriculture season

Communications

Summer is long gone and Santropol Roulant’s urban agriculture and farm team is now ‘hibernating’ for the winter months, which means we are reflecting on the season that just ended while also planning (and dreaming!) about the next to come. Cozy in our wool sweaters with a warm cup of tea in our hands, let’s look back at the amazing season we had this year at Santropol Roulant’s gardens.

The Team

Spring time was especially rainy this year, which delayed seeding and transplanting in the garden and kept our bees waiting patiently before they could leave their hive. That said, when summer finally arrived, it came in full force, bringing with it warmer weather, an abundant harvest and plenty of new faces on the urban agriculture team!  We were thrilled to welcome summer interns Charlotte, Winnie, Beccah, Zoe, Mike, Eryn, Loïc, Ginny, Greg, Annie-Claude, Émilie, Kabisha, Laurence, Alimatou, Carlo, Naomi, Tassia, not to mention the many dedicated volunteers who got their hands dirty growing the hearty veggies which were distributed through our meals-on-wheels program, our weekly fresh baskets, neighborhoud markets and at our partner restaurants. All our veggies are sold via our social economy program where the profits generated from one portion enable us to sell another portion of our vegetables at reduced price at both our weekly markets and through the fresh basket program.We want to thank everyone who purchased our  veggies this season who made our fresh and ultra-local produce accessible to community members.

The Harvest

The harvests were generous and bountiful, both in our urban gardens and at our peri-urban farm site in the West Island.  The urban gardens located on the 111 Roy St rooftop and on McGill campus harvested around 2 tons of fresh vegetables while the Senneville farm harvested more than 14 tons of veggies; almost 3 times more than last year! We also harvested a record amount of honey from our two urban beehives (believe it or not, more than 70kg this season) and the Fruits Défendus collective also harvested a record 2 500 kg of urban fruit!

Workshops and Events

The summer was bountiful in many other ways with our several workshops and gardening events.  The season started with a bang at the end of June with the annual Happening, where over 300 people gathered to celebrate Santropol Roulant’s birthday and the launch of our garden season. In July, we hosted the Intergenerational Summer Brunch at our agriculture site on campus at McGill, where many meals-on-wheels clients came to share a home-cooked meal and tour the garden.  Finally, we rounded out the season with the Iron Chef competition, where 6 local chefs battled fork and knife to prepare a dish on-site inspired by vegetables harvested live during the event, all in under an hour!  Each participating team fundraised a minimum of 500$ for the Roulant. When fall kicked in, we hosted a fundraising Farm Brunch on a beautiful day of September and in October, we invited community members for our 100 Mile Meal event at one of our partner restaurant and friend, Robin des Bois.

Community Engagement

All that to say, it’s been quite a summer here at Santropol Roulant! One of the great highlight of this last season is without any doubt the proliferation and deepening of community engagement initiatives within the urban agriculture program. Not only did we have the chance to welcome a multitude of wonderful interns throughout the summer, both collectives (beekeeping and les Fruits Défendus) saw their community activities and impacts deepen and flourish. Two new community projects arose over the last summer: a community plot at McGill University where employees of the Burnside building were invited to garden next to their workplace with the help of the UA team and an intergenerational garden project where volunteers and MOW clients grew not only garden plants but also friendship at our client’s houses. Finally, 330 young gardeners attended a series of gardening workshops and got the chance to reconnect to the source of their food and see an urban sustainable food system in action through our project called Entre grange et gratte-ciel.

Stats!

Here are a few stats on this season’s successes for our urban and peri-urban agriculture program at Santropol Roulant.

  • 2 tons of vegetables produced in the urban gardens (111 Roy St and McGill campus)
  • 14 tons of vegetables produced at the farm (Senneville)
  • 2 full-time interns in the urban gardens and 1 full-time intern at the farm
  • 1 market coordinator and 1 intern for the Fruit Défendus collective
  • 5 mini-interns in UA gardens and 5 more at the farm
  • 77 weekly fresh baskets distributed in the community (7 of them subsidized)
  • 20 custom fresh baskets for our MOW clients
  • 13 pocket markets on Thursdays (corner of Milton and Ste-Famille) and 20 pocket markets on Tuesdays (in front of 111 Roy St)
  • 9 Little Burgundy Markets and 9 McGill’ farmers’s markets
  • 7 gardening community workshops (160 participants)
  • 1 community visit at the farm (30 participants)
  • 330 youth participated in Entre grange et gratte-ciel workshops (180 visited the UA gardens and 150 visited the farm)
  • 70 kg of honey produced in our urban gardens
  • 2500kg of urban fruits harvested in the city

Voilà! It’s been quite a busy summer in the gardens and the full urban agriculture and farm team is now taking some well-deserved rest while preparing the next gardening season! We wish you a wonderful winter to all and see you next year!

– Noémie, Pierre-Vincent, Tim and Sam, Santropol Roulant’s farm and urban agriculture team

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