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Spotlight: The Edible Food Garden @ Desjardins 95 St. Clair

If you’ve been near Yonge and St. Clair this summer, you may have noticed a vibrant new patch of green. Nestled among the office towers is The Edible Food Garden—a lush vegetable and pollinator garden with a community-minded mandate.

The garden is part of a national Colliers program in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver. It challenges the idea that office buildings need to be associated with decorative landscaping, and promotes a collective shift towards more productive uses of urban space.

The Origin Story:

The environmental initiative first started in the spring of 2019, when Shiri Rosenberg, Colliers Director of Asset Management, was getting her front yard vegetable garden ready. She asked herself, “Why can’t we grow food and achieve similar goals on the land of the buildings we manage right here in our city?”

In addition to supporting owners in their goal of activating sites and engaging tenants, growing food on-site can help build stronger communities, combat food insecurity and support urban biodiversity. The program was so well received that in summer 2020, the urban farm and pollinator garden was expanded and moved to the front of the building by Colliers International as part of its Class A Office Platform.

The program is generously supported by Desjardins, and the garden is stewarded by urban agriculture experts Hoffmann Hayes.

Since early spring, their team has harvested an incredible haul of over 400 pounds of kale, lettuce, arugula, swiss chard, onions, garlic, carrots, peas, and herbsto name just a few!and donated the produce to community food centres, including The Stop’s food access programs.

Donated kale from the 95 St. Clair garden

Our chefs have made a ton of dishes with their donated veggies, but our Cuban meal of ropa viejaa slow-cooked pulled beef with green peppers and onionswas particularly delicious (see above). We used parsley and green onions from the garden, and served with black beans and rice.

“Seasonal herbs and tender vegetables have a flavor and freshness that is so much better than the imported ones,” explains Stop Chef Monica Bettson. “All the produce from The Edible Garden has been top notch, you can tell it’s fresh from the garden, less than a few kilometers from the Stop!”

Want to recreate a ropa veija with your own veggies at home?

“I made the meal using recipes from this book,” says Monica. “It’s a great starting book into Cuban cuisine, along with amazing photographs. The beans and meat seem so simple when eating them, but there’s a long list of ingredients and flavours that layer on top of each other in both recipes. The beans start with a sofritoslow-cooked onion, garlic, and green onionsthen have layers of other cuban flavours like cumin, oregano and bay leaf.”