New sustainable urban farm has secured land in Durham Region

The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture breaks new ground

On Thursday, October 6, Durham College (DC), the Barrett Family Foundation, Invest Durham and Durham Region announced the establishment of The Barrett Centre for Urban Agriculture’s new urban farm project.

The vacant land, located in north Ajax, is owned by Durham Region and has been reserved for future water supply infrastructure requirements, but until such time will serve as this new, temporary urban farm site in order to benefit surrounding communities.

“Durham Region is a destination of choice for investment in urban, indoor and vertical farming. Our innovation community is using forward-thinking to adopt sustainable practices that will help combat critical issues like climate change, food access and food insecurity,” says John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Regional Municipality of Durham. “Durham College is a recognized leader in urban agriculture education and we are thrilled to unveil the development site for this incredible centre of innovation—one that will have a profound positive impact on communities, locally, nationally and globally for generations to come.”

In September 2021, DC launched The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture (The Barrett Centre) thanks to a $5-million donation from The Barrett Family Foundation. The Barrett Centre’s vision is to become an internationally recognized hub of excellence in urban agriculture practices, research, education and training. It will address some of society’s biggest challenges including food insecurity, access to safe and stable supplies of fresh food, economic stability and regeneration of land for local food production. This dynamic new urban farm is one of the initiatives of The Barrett Centre, and will be a community-based living lab, replicating and scaling the successful farming operations already established at DC’s Whitby campus.

“Durham College is excited to establish this new partnership made possible by the support of the Barrett Family Foundation and the Region of Durham,” said Kelly O’Brien, associate dean, Faculty of Hospitality & Horticulture Science at Durham College. “As we establish the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Agriculture, together we will lead the way to a more resilient, inclusive, collaborative and diverse food system for Durham Region, Ontario and beyond.”

As a leader in agriculture, the Region of Durham is known for its innovative and sustainable thinking. DC is confident this new urban farm will add to Durham Region’s agricultural strategy in developing a strong locally-sourced food supply for years to come.

For more information about The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture visit