Three ways Durham College’s Barrett Centre can help Durham veggie gardeners get growing

As local gardeners start planting, Durham College’s Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture is here to help you succeed in growing nutritious and delicious food at home.

Community members can connect with The Barrett Centre both online and in-person by visiting our Ajax Urban Farm.

Here are three ways we’re helping you get growing this summer:

Visit our Community Portal

The Barrett Centre’s Community Portal is a one-stop-shop resource for growing fresh food at home. Whether you have a large backyard, a planter on your balcony or you’re planting a garden with a class or community group, our portal can help you succeed through our Knowledge Centre featuring how-to-guides and garden models.

Wondering if it’s warm enough to plant your peas? Visit our Community Forum and chat with other gardeners to find out what they’re planting and when. For more advanced questions, try our Ask an Expert feature where our experts can help you with topics like plant health, pest management, advise you on soil, watering and more! Frequently Asked Questions are also posted so you can browse answers from experts.

Join us at the Ajax Urban Farm’s Community Open Houses

Tour the farm and get to know us at our Spring and Summer Community Open Houses. Try our drop-in sessions and meet our team! The Spring Open House is on May 31 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. and the Summer Open House is on July 25 from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Find The Barrett Centre Ajax Urban Farm  at 1355 Harwood Ave. N. in Ajax.

Summer drop-ins at the farm

Our library and garden drop-ins run on three Wednesdays per month in the summer from 3 to 5 p.m.: June 12, 19 and 26; July 10, 17 and 24; and August 7, 14 and 21.

The farm library has a range of books from storybooks perfect for reading on a blanket at our farm, to more specialized books on growing topics for both new and experienced gardeners.

On Thursdays, get in touch with your creative side and drop-in for an art activity! Art drop-ins run from 3 to 5 p.m. on June 13, 20, 27; July 11, 18 and 25; and August 8, 15 and 22.

Not a gardener but you love fresh fruit and veggies?

Check out our Mobile Food Market where local produce is sold at an affordable cost. This project is a collaboration between the Barrett Centre and Community Care Durham.

Starting on May 22, it will run every Wednesday at the Ajax Community Centre North Parking Lot, 75 Centennial Rd. in Ajax, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Fridays at the Whitby 55+ Recreation Centre, 801 Brock St. S. in Whitby, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Learn more about The Barrett Centre online or contact us via e-mail to book a tour via

Durham College is leading the way to a greener future

At Durham College (DC), we prioritize green initiatives in everything we do. From our solid waste management policy that supports recycling batteries, light bulbs and air filters, to our field-to-fork-to-field philosophy – DC truly walks the talk and has the results to prove it. Recently named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the seventh year in a row – our efforts are truly making a difference not only on our campuses but in educating the next generation of students to be leaders in sustainability, too. 

Here are just a few examples of how green we really are at DC.

  • Going underground for energy generation.

    DC’s Oshawa campus features the college’s geothermal field and Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), which helps reduce the college’s demand for heating and cooling. Located underground, the geothermal field captures 550 tons of clean, sustainable power, which is processed through the EIC and distributed to DC’s Gordon Willey building to fuel its energy needs.

    The EIC is a bright and modern exhibit-like building where you can learn more about how the geothermal system works through interactive touch screens, system diagrams and performance metrics. Visit our Oshawa campus today and experience the EIC for yourself!

  • Building a better planet with a field-to-fork-to-field philosophy

    DC’s Silver STARS rated Whitby campus is home to the impressive W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (Weston Centre). Students in the Faculty of Hospitality & Horticultural Science, plant, grow and harvest produce on the campus’ one-acre farm, which is prepared and served at the Weston Centre’s award-winning Bistro ’67 restaurant and Pantry retail store.

    As the college works toward a zero-waste policy in its culinary labs, the Weston Centre’s new organic regeneration system will support our efforts by producing waste compost for use in the college’s agricultural growing fields, completing the field-to-fork-to-field cycle.

    The Weston Centre also features state-of-the-art labs including two greenhouses, an indoor hydroponic farm, pollinator garden and an arboretum, just to name a few.

  • Helping combat food insecurity with sustainable urban farming.

    As a recognized leader in food, farming and horticulture science education, DC’s Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture (Barrett Centre) addresses some of society’s biggest challenges, including food insecurity. By partnering with the community in local food production initiatives and creating a new dynamic urban farm which follows a holistic and sustainable approach to urban agriculture and vertical and regenerative farming methods, we will help solve food insecurity issues while also enhancing soil and air quality. 

    This year, 10 student-led projects focused on addressing food insecurity were funded by the RBC Urban Agriculture Work Integrated Learning Program. Students from across the college in any faculty were invited to apply to explore unique ways to address this challenge.

  • Going green inside the classroom and beyond.

    Although DC’s state-of-the-art green facilities are quite impressive, small changes are never overlooked. For example, water bottle fillers are available across both campuses to reduce the use of plastic, low-flow water systems in bathrooms save water, LED lights reduce energy and there are charging stations for electric vehicles.

    The development of the college’s new Office of Campus Sustainability also serves as proof of our long-term commitment to sustainability and dedication to continuous improvement and innovation.

At DC, we understand that our sustainability efforts exceed our classroom walls and campus grounds. They impact more than just our students and employees; they help contribute to a healthier planet for future generations.