New urban farm supports local community
This fall, workers were plowing, planting, and transforming a swath of unused lawn into the city’s newest urban farmland. Located a few blocks east of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, the site now boasts fruit trees and berry bushes, with more planned as soon as the ground thaws this spring.
The project is located on the grounds of Scientific Games, a provider of retail and digital games, and is a partnership with Montreal non-profit organization La Cuisine Collective Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (CCHM). The community-inclusive, sustainable farm’s mission is multifold: helping feed local residents, community development as well as contributing to the broader effort by the City of Montreal to make industrial areas greener.
“We are thankful for Scientific Games’ shared vision with the CCHM to support the local community through this urban farm,” said Benoist De Peyrelongue, General Manager for CCHM. “It is the second farm the CCHM has built as part of our mission to promote the right to healthy food and healthy eating through a circular, community economy.”
The 22,000 square-foot urban agriculture project — titled Ferme agricole, en ville, pour tous will supply fresh produce to 40 local collective kitchens and to the CCHM’s community store and other organizations that sell low-cost, quality fruits and vegetables. Fresh goods will also be used in food baskets distributed to single-parent families and the community’s most vulnerable residents. The farm is expected to produce 10 tons of fruits and vegetables in 2022-23 and 15 tons in 2023-24. In an average year, the produce will help provide 150,000 meals and fill more than 2,600 food baskets. A greenhouse is planned for 2023-24.
This is the second urban farm created by the CCHM in 2022. In the spring, the plans include adding a 5,700 square foot greenhouse as well as planting approximately 60 fruit trees, including apples, plums, pears and apricots.
More and more people don’t have access to enough food
According to data compiled by Centraide du Grand Montréal, one in five Montrealers struggle to access fresh and healthy foods, and 17 per cent of Quebecers do not have an adequate food supply. At some local food assistance programs, requests for food baskets have risen dramatically and Canadian food banks are seeing record demand — 15 per cent more than in the same period last year and 35 per cent more than in March 2019. The assistance service La Maison de quartier Villeray is now handing out 1,000 food baskets each month compared to 200 at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
In addition to its food production, the urban farm will also create jobs, offer educational workshops to schools and other organizations, and integrate a business program for adults with intellectual disabilities.
“This project with the CCHM is a leading example of social, responsible and sustainable environmental impact on the local community,” said Dena Rosenzweig, Chief Legal Officer for Scientific Games who leads the company’s Environmental, Sustainability and Governance programs.