Carrot City Designing for Urban Agriculture

Fresh City Farms

Exhibit Category / Catégorie de l'expo: Community & Knowledge

Location/Emplacement: Toronto, ON, Canada
Dates: 2011 - present
Designers/Concepteurs: Fresh City Farms & Parc Downsview Park
Clients: Fresh City Farms

More Information/Plus d'informations: Fresh City Farms
Image Credits/Crédits d'images: Drawings by Jane Hutton, Parc Downsview Park, Fresh City Farms. Photos by Nicholas Potovszky, Arlene Throness, Fresh City Farms, Joe Nasr, June Komisar

Project Description: (version française ci-dessous)

Fresh City Farms (FCF) is a socially oriented enterprise founded on an innovative model that combines farmer training, bag-based delivery of fresh and prepared food, and educational outreach about food and farming. When the founders were seeking a site inside Toronto that could serve as a base for this unusual operation, they decided on Parc Downsview Park Inc. (PDP).

PDP is a 230-hectare federally owned property in Toronto’s inner suburbs which had served as a hub for aeronautic activity until the 1990s. A public corporation was set up to undertake long-term redevelopment of part of the site, combining large green spaces and new transit-focused mixed-use neighborhoods. Food production was recognized explicitly by PDP as a specific element in its Master Plan when it designated an area of about twenty acres as a “Cultivation Campus” for both food production and education. In 2009, PDP launched a pilot project on about three acres, including three greenhouses.

FCF moved to this site in 2011. Landscape architect Jane Hutton had already laid it out for farming, and FCF adapted this design to accommodate their model, which is based on the concept of “member farmers”: beginner farmers get guidance and a plot from FCF where they grow crops, partly for delivery to FCF’s clients as part of their bag scheme, and partly for sale by the farmers through other channels. Member farmers typically have other small urban spaces besides their PDP plot. In addition, FCF directly controls part of the overall site. It supplements this production through extensive channels it has developed with farmers in Toronto’s hinterland.

FCF’s greenhouse has fulfilled a number of support functions over the years. In addition to serving as a nursery for its own seedlings and for seasonal food production, it has served as the initial office for the enterprise as well as its packing site. More recently, the greenhouse has hosted an experiment with aquaponics.

FCF expanded quickly, outgrowing its initial facilities at PDP. It moved its office and packing facility to a former storefront in a nearby shopping center, then to a larger warehouse that it shared with another emerging enterprise, 100 Km Foods. It is currently moving again to an even larger site, hoping to act as a hub for other startup urban farming operations. Moreover, it sought to expand its production facility; a company that owned a low-rise building on the road to the airport with a large lawn area made some of its land available for FCF for a new greenhouse that it is designing to its own specifications. FCF illustrates well the variety of physical needs that a successful urban agriculture enterprise requires in response to the dynamic urban market.

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Scale (Carrot City Category)


Location: City

Location: Country