Carrot City Designing for Urban Agriculture

The Living City

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

Location/Emplacement: Ontario, Canada
Dates: n/a
Designers/Concepteurs: n/a
Clients: n/a

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Project Description: (version française ci-dessous)

As the cities of the Golden Horseshoe grow, it is crucial to preserve productive farmland in close proximity to built-up urban areas. We need exemplary models of compact, near-urban farms that are ecologically sustainable, commercially viable, and feed the local community. We need them in settings that attract large audiences of day-visitors seeking inspiring, hands-on environmental education.

The Living City Campus at Kortright grows out of Toronto and Region Conservation’s (TRCA) vision for healthy urban environments and The Living City vision for a new kind of community, where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature’s beauty and diversity. From renewable energy to green buildings to new technologies and sustainable transportation, visitors will experience the latest in green living, inspiring change in how people live, work and play today for a healthier tomorrow.

Working with Everdale Environmental Learning Centre, and drawing on its decade-long experience in food education, TRCA is designing The Living City Farm as a hub for near-urban farming revival. The farm will demonstrate ecologically sustainable farming practices in close association with surrounding woods and wildlife, showcasing a near-urban landscape where farms play a vital role. Visitors to the farm will learn about sustainable farming practices and connect with the sources of their food. The farm will grow organic crops to be used in meals prepared for consumption on-site and sold to the local community through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers’ markets. Food ‘waste’ will be composted to replenish the soil, completing a natural food-nutrient cycle within the campus.

Children will tour the farm in supervised school visits and participate in planting, harvesting, seed saving, and curriculum-linked growing projects back in their classrooms and school gardens.

Adults will engage with the farm through guided and self-guided tours, public events, and workshops.

The farm will also provide training for a new generation of ecological farmers, and for existing farmers to help them transition their farm businesses to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a near-urban location.

The McVean farm is situated in the middle of a growing and diverse peri-urban neighbourhood, in the City of Brampton. There are many attributes to the McVean property that lend this parcel of land considerable cultural heritage value. These include the history of the farm on the site, a historic barn, cultural landscapes and the archaeological potential of remains of buildings that once stood on the site.

Originally a wheat farm, the McVean property is associated with a very prominent early settler, Alexander McVean and his family, and is the oldest farm in Brampton dating back 150 years. Significant features include a very rare Double English Wheat Barn built by the McVean family in the 1840s. Possessing a high degree of architectural integrity, it is quite unique in that very few were built and fewer still exist in their original form today. The McVean Barn was built specifically for the processing of wheat using ‘winnowing’, an ancient method of using the wind to separate the wheat kernel from the chaff.

In 2008, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) entered into multi-year agreement for farming fifteen hectares (thirty-seven acres) at the site. This was the first time TRCA entered into a multi-year lease agreement of this kind. In partnership with FarmStart, a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates, supports and encourages a new generation of farmers to develop economically viable, locally based, and ecological agricultural enterprises, TRCA is working to provide infrastructure support, such as rain water collection harvesting systems, fencing, irrigation, storage facilities, and market buildings.

Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) will also support the project through stewardship and educational programming beginning in year three of the lease.

The McVean New Farmers project is a partnership between TRCA, who own the property, and FarmStart. The project is the first of its kind in Canada, leading the way towards sustainable, local agriculture that serves the needs of growing urban communities and protects the local green space and ecosystems. By encouraging new farmers and products and promoting local food production and community engagement, this farm project will allow community members to access and connect to the source of their food, and to know and value the land on which is it grown and those who have grown it. Sustainable near-urban agriculture supports not only healthy rivers and regional biodiversity through soil regeneration, ecological restoration, and ecosystem integrity, but it is also a critical component of sustainable communities.

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Scale (Carrot City Category)


Location: City

Location: Country