September 16, 2013 4:10 pm

Rooftop garden feeds hundreds at local community centre

TORONTO- This past spring a rooftop garden was implemented on a building, donated by TAS to help feed those in need in Regent Park.

The company’s philosophy is simple: contributing positively to our city.

“What’s important to us is how we shape beautiful cities. We were looking at an opportunity where we could begin to plant the roofs of some of the buildings that we own, and the conversation came about with Cultivate,” said Mazyar Mortazavi, president and CEO of TAS, a Toronto urban development company.

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A partnership began with Cultivate Toronto, a volunteer-based organization that connects people with fresh, locally grown food across different neighbourhoods in the city.

“We have a whole suite of vegetables and herbs growing up here. Everything from the three sisters corn and squash and beans to different herbs,” said Christopher Wong, co-founder of Cultivate Toronto.

Growing produce on rooftops brings its own unique set of challenges.

“Increased winds as well as greater temperature fluctuations,” said Wong. “Plants are living creatures and like to have more of a nice controlled environment and the way that we’ve been able to overcome that is by setting up earth box watering container gardens.”

Cultivate Toronto purchased 36 planter boxes and soil, and TAS purchased another 36 effectively doubling the garden’s capacity.

To date more than 250 pounds of produce has been harvested from the rooftop garden and all of it has been donated to the Regent Park Community Food Centre’s meal program.

“We serve on average 150 breakfasts a day, 250 lunches,” said Liz Curran, manager at the Regent Park Community Food Centre. “The produce they’ve been donating makes it that much easier for us to be able to offer healthier meals to our community members.”

“What we’re trying to do is raise awareness so that we can effect change from the simple things,” said Mortazavi.

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