Another great initiative from a grocery store in the Montreal area! To help attain some of the requirements for this Saint-Laurent IGA store to reach LEED Gold certification, it has installed a rooftop garden. The IGA now sells thirty varieties of fresh organic produce which is grown on the roof. As the demand for local produce grows, this IGA seems to be ahead of the curve, as it has become the first grocery store in Canada to sell produce grown on the roof. How much more local can you get than grown above your own head?
The garden adds several interesting features. Though many rooftop gardens are hydroponic, this one has a thin level of soil on the roof, which allows for organic production of produce. Some pesticides are allowed in organic farming, but the managers of this garden try to fend off unwanted pests by pairing produce with complimentary flowers which have a smell that will ward off specific pests. The garden is also irrigated with water collected from the store’s dehumidification system, reducing waste water production. A green roof also provides an extra level of insulation for the building, reducing energy costs.
Lettuce, eggplant and radishes are already available, and kale, basil and twelve varieties of heirloom tomatoes are other crops which are currently being grown. A structure will be installed to extend the growth season in a greenhouse through November, and they hope to be able to produce crops for nine months of the year. As there are nine hives installed on the roof as well, they expect to be able to start selling up to 200 kg of honey in store by the end of September.
The Montreal company, which specializes in the installation of green roofs, The Green Line: Green Roof was hired to take on the installation of this 2300 m2 rooftop garden. It has already installed rooftop gardens on Montreal’s conference center, Palais de congress and on Santropol Roulant, a Montreal company who use the roof’s produce to prepare some of the food for its meals-on-wheels service, providing meals to shut ins. Though too early to tell how successful this initiative will be, if it is successful Sobeys, which owns IGA would like to replicate the project in other grocery stores in Canada. Unconventionally, the garden also serves as a great advertisement for the store, as the shape of the garden also spells out IGA if you can get an aerial view! I will have to look for it the next time I am landing in Montreal!
As produce sold from the rooftop garden is the same price as other organic produce sold in store, this initiative seems like a win-win. It serves as a different way to access local food, and allows for the grocery store to be more sustainable. Though Montreal has a great system of farmers markets, being able to buy VERY local produce, and other grocery items in one place does add a level of convenience. I love the market, but probably only go every two weeks as it is sometimes simpler to minimize the number of trips to the store. I would imagine that with the addition of a young family, the importance in this added convenience would increase significantly!
I am interested to see how the garden will overwinter, as I can imagine the flat roof of this store would be fairly exposed to the elements. Maybe a future news story will include pictures of its winter covering!
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