DC receives $5-million donation from The Barrett Family Foundation to establish the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture

As a recognized leader in food, farming and horticulture science education, Durham College is pleased to announce it has received a $5-million donation, to be released over a period of five years, from The Barrett Family Foundation. Only the second college in Ontario to receive support from the foundation, the funds will be used to create The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture (Barrett Centre). 

Housed within the college’s Whitby campus, the Barrett Centre’s vision is to become an internationally recognized hub of excellence in urban agricultural practices, research, education and training, to address some of society’s biggest challenges including food insecurity, access to safe and stable supplies of fresh food, and economic stability and regeneration of land for local food production. 

This includes building a dynamic new urban farm that will be developed as a community-inspired living lab in the coming years. Leveraging the college’s horticultural, food and farming knowledge and experience, the farm will replicate and scale the successful farming operation already established at the college’s Whitby campus, within the community.

“We are extremely grateful to be partnering with The Barrett Family Foundation to bring this new centre to life,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “The immense successes we have enjoyed with our post-secondary programs and urban farm on our Whitby campus demonstrate the potential for further exploration and solving critical issues related to food access and security. In establishing the new community farm, we will refine and enhance the current model while also scaling up more broadly to support the local, regional and national urban environments.”

“Durham College is a recognized leader in urban agriculture education,” said Bob Barrett, The Barrett Family Foundation. “The vision to modernize and replicate their current model of urban farming into a regional, national and global entity is very impressive and innovative. Our investment in the college and creation of the Barrett Centre will allow them to scale their operations into a global hub for urban agriculture knowledge and best practices.”

Over the coming weeks and months, the college will begin establishing the infrastructure for the Barrett Centre, including the new community farm which will be scaled and modelled based on the urban farm at DC’s Whitby campus gardens, greenhouses and agricultural fields. A progress update and launch event is planned for the summer, public health restrictions permitting. 

For more information about The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture visit www.durhamcollege.ca/barrettcentre.