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Making the Edible Campus

Winner of the 2008 National Urban Design Award

2010 Edible Campus Summary

Dear all, We are pleased to announce the results of our Edible Campus Garden which is a collaborative project between us here at the Minimum Cost Housing Group, the good folks from Santropol Roulant with the assistance from McGill’s Sustainability Projects Fund and of course all the volunteers. In 2010, the total yield reached ONE TON of produce; we harvested 28 different types of vegetables and have achieved significant progress in expanding our footprint on campus. We occupied a quarter acre of land with 275 self-watering containers and two permanent gardens. Last year, we filled a second rock-bed area which will blossom with many perennial herbs come spring. We are grateful for all your help and support and look forward to spring to further expand our garden!


Herb Garden


Herb Garden Expansion Progress
Edible Campus, McGill


Edible Campus on BBC News

2008 National Urban Design Award

Category: Urban Fragments

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) have awarded a 2008 National Urban Design Award in the category Urban Fragments to the project "Making the Edible Campus".

From the jury comments:

Amongst the interesting “fragments” submitted from across the country, the jury appreciated the social foundations and community/volunteer involvement as well as the sustainable urban objectives of this scheme. With simple, direct layouts it aims to employ underused corners and spaces within the public realm to grow produce linked to a food collection and meal delivery system, creating a sustainable prototype that could potentially be expanded to other university campuses and across the city.

Introduction: Cities, where more than half the humanity now lives, are pivotal in reducing the global warming, which need both design solutions and concerted social action. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (2006), up to half of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (350 million tonnes) are under the control or influence of municipal governments, hence in the context of urban environmental degradation and increasing food insecurity, both in quality and quantity, greening of the cities can play an important role. Greening of cities cannot be left solely in hands of local authorities, their resources are stretched beyond limit and any added responsibility will raise their operating and recurring expenses, requiring higher taxes, which are not welcome by ordinary citizens. To overcome this impasse, for last five years, our team has been seeking innovative ways, social, institutional and technological, to valorize the greening of the city by fostering participatory cultivating "Edible Landscapes" in cities.

Goals: To make the benefits of cultivating in cities widely recognized in terms of its environmental, economic, social, recreational and health related roles, so that it can be used to its maximum potential by cities everywhere, in the North as well as in the South.

View of the Edible Campus

Size: In the spring and summer of 2007, volunteers and researchers from Alternatives and Santropol Roulant (two leading NGO’s) and the Minimum Cost Housing Group of McGill University’s School of Architecture incorporated productive growing in a concrete covered, prominent urban corner of the University’s downtown campus. The result, the Edible Campus, was a 120 square meter container garden that involved citizens in the creation of green, edible community spaces. The Edible Campus has also demonstrated how productive planting can be woven into urban spaces without diminishing the utility or functionality, while exploring strategies for increasing food production in the city and improving spatial quality by exploiting underutilized and neglected space.

Process: 

Edible Campus
Edible Campus Brochure

Initial site analysis:

Creation of the Edible Campus at McGill, May 19, 2007

When locating a garden in built up urban areas it is important to consider the availability of sunlight. For the Edible Campus Garden a detailed study of site and shadows was carried out before choosing its final location.

Survey for an adequate site in partnership with Santropol Roulant

Creation of the Edible Campus, May 19th, 2007:

Creation of the Edible Campus at McGill, May 19, 2007Creation of the Edible Campus at McGill, May 19, 2007
Creation of the Edible Campus at McGill, May 19, 2007Creation of the Edible Campus at McGill, May 19, 2007
Creation of the Edible Campus at McGill, May 19, 2007Creation of the Edible Campus at McGill, May 19, 2007