The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture

Thanks to a generous $5-million donation from The Barrett Family Foundation, Durham College is establishing The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture (Barrett Centre).

  • "Durham College is a recognized leader in urban agriculture education. 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."

    Bob Barrett The Barrett Family Foundation

What is the Barrett Centre?

As a recognized leader in food, farming and horticulture science education, Durham College (DC) is using its skills and expertise, and the generous support of The Barrett Family Foundation, to establish the Barrett Centre.

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-based living lab in the coming years, replicating and scaling the successful farming operations already established at the college’s Whitby campus as a model for other urban farms.


The Barrett Centre’s mission is to:

  • Be the post-secondary destination of choice for learners of all types to gain skills in urban agriculture programming and operations.
  • Be recognized by industry as best in class for producing next-generation urban farming professionals.
  • Be sought out by urban agriculturalists, industry, government, NGOs, researchers, community groups and others to actively participate in innovative urban agricultural initiatives.

Why sustainable agriculture and urban farming?

Some of the biggest challenges facing society today include food insecurity, access to a safe and stable supply of fresh food, economic stability and environmental regeneration of the land for local food production.

The adoption of a holistic and sustainable approach to urban agriculture, and vertical and regenerative farming methods offers socio-economic solutions that build resiliency into our communities, create financial opportunities for people, and solve food insecurity issues while also enhancing soil and air quality.

The Barrett Centre will be a model of best practices in urban agriculture that will serve as a leading-edge example for education, research and farming locally, nationally and globally.

Barrett Centre Urban Agriculture Community Portal

Your path to sustainable urban agriculture.

Facilitated by Barrett Centre Staff and Experts, we welcome teachers, students, community leaders, families, and individuals to support food security, education, innovation, and sustainability on the community portal.

The Barrett Centre Urban Agriculture Community offers a space for community discussion, Knowledge Centre resource downloads, and the opportunity to ask an expert your specific questions. From stories on our blog to practical how-to guides, recipes for seasonal produce and horticulture education activities, there is a range of resources available for everyone. 

Learn More about the Community Portal

About The Barrett Family Foundation

The Barrett Family’s significant philanthropic gift giving has supported a broad range of causes. Charitable sectors that have benefitted include: education, environment, humanitarian causes, health, and the arts.

The Foundation’s interests and resources are focused on supporting people in the acquisition of skills applicable to their workplace success. They do this by partnering with organizations that will provide opportunities for individuals to acquire knowledge for effectiveness in their chosen careers, to innovate new strategies that will make the planet safer and more productive, and to better serve people living on the margins so they can face their futures with confidence and self-respect.

To learn more about the Barrett Centre and explore potential partnership opportunities, please contact Brenna Ireland, Partnership Manager, at