Durham College leads the way in food security with grand opening of the Barrett Centre’s Ajax Urban Farm

Durham College (DC) celebrated the grand opening of the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture’s Ajax Urban Farm today – a modern agricultural green space that’s leading the way in food literacy and security in Durham Region and beyond.

Managed by DC’s Faculty of Hospitality and Horticultural Science, the Barrett Centre’s Ajax Urban Farm is a community-based living lab where DC students gain hands-on learning experiences through the farm’s mission to build a more resilient, inclusive, collaborative and diverse food system in our community. This initiative is made possible thanks to the Barrett Family Foundation and through partnerships with the Town of Ajax and the Regional Municipality of Durham.

“The Barrett Centre’s Ajax Urban Farm is truly leading the way by adding to Durham Region’s agricultural strategy in developing a strong locally sourced food supply for years to come,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “Our community is directly benefiting from the resources developed here by our expert faculty and experiential learning student-led projects.”

The location for the urban farm was announced just a year ago and since then the Barrett Centre team has made great progress and the community has felt an immediate impact.

 Beyond beautiful gardens and orchards, the site features an apiary, hoop houses and a Food Literacy Zone which educates the public on nutrition. A recent addition was an accessible hydroponic indoor farm, which provides fresh produce year-round and is the first of its kind at a Canadian post-secondary institution and the second in all of Canada to be AODA compliant. A significant component of the Barrett Centre’s Ajax Urban Farm is its online community portal – a digital resource hub dedicated to empowering, supporting and educating the public on urban agriculture and food literacy.

“The online portal is an extension of the work done on the farm and connects the Barrett Centre with the community in new ways,” says Kelly O’Brien, associate dean, Faculty of Hospitality & Horticultural Science. “It provides an opportunity for everyone in our community to access resources, have discussions and even ask our expert faculty-specific questions about urban agriculture. From stories on our blog to recipes and educational activities – there really is something for everyone.”

The Barrett Centre’s Ajax urban farm is inspiring people to make a difference in their community and is truly making an impact. With urban farming becoming more and more popular, it inspires not only the community but DC Horticulture Food and Farming students and graduates like Paul Fritzsch to take action.

“Shortly after beginning my education at DC, I soon found myself gravitating towards finding solutions for solving food insecurity,” said Fritzsch. “I worked with fellow students on a partnership project with Colliers Canada and also launched my own business Urban Farm Solutions which has grown and donated over 250 kilograms of food to Community Care Durham on behalf of Colliers and their tenants.”

Subscribe to the Barrett Centre’s Ajax Urban Farm newsletter to stay up-to-date on recent projects or email the farm to book a visit or tour.