Durham College tackles food insecurity with market garden benefiting Community Care Durham

Three students from Durham College’s (DC) Horticulture – Food and Farming and Horticulture Technician programs are leading the way to food security in the Durham Region with the installation of a market garden located at a new Whitby warehouse facility and benefiting Community Care Durham’s (CCD) Food Box Program.

Completed in collaboration with the college’s Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture, Colliers Real Estate Management Services and Fiera Real Estate, the garden was designed and is currently maintained by students Abigayle Hamilton, Christine Barretto and Paul Fritzsch alongside field supervisor, Andrew Guay, with the dual-purpose of creating a relaxing and aesthetically-pleasing space for warehouse employees to enjoy, while also providing fresh food to community members in need.

“This project underscores how reinventing green spaces within our communities through regenerative agricultural practices can support local food production so those in need have access to a safe and stable supply of fresh food,” said Kelly O’Brien, associate dean, Faculty of Hospitality & Horticultural Science, Durham College. “We are proud of how our students are becoming leaders in the community, demonstrating how fresh food can be both accessible and affordable with a bit of outside-the-box thinking.”

The space includes raised-bed planters with numerous herbs, including basil, lemongrass, chives, lavender, thyme, sage, kale, nasturtium and ornamental leopard’s bane, while the gardens feature produce like snap peas, sweet peppers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, arugula, purple cabbage and butternut squash. Everything grown is donated directly to CCD.

“With the support of the building owners, Fiera, Colliers had the opportunity to transform an unused space into something that gives back to tenants and the local community,” said Lindsay Brooks, property manager, Colliers Real Estate Management Services. “We are beyond thrilled to have partnered with the team at Durham College. Their thoughtful approach to our project, budget and vision far exceeded what we could have expected. They were truly able to bring our vision to life and really capture our goals.”

For nearly a decade, the Weston Centre has been a community destination point. Home to eight full-time programs of study in the Faculty of Hospitality & Horticultural Science, as well as the award-winning, full-service restaurant Bistro ’67 and its retail store Pantry, the centre plays host to students, restaurant guests, customers and corporate business partners. With field-to-fork and sustainable practices at the forefront, the centre offers a holistic learning environment unlike any other in Canada, where students expand their knowledge and skills through an innovative curriculum, hands-on labs and real-world work experiences.

Last year, DC launched its newest food sustainability venture, the Barrett Centre, with a vision 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.

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