Withrow’s Urban Grower Project
A community-led project hosted by the Withrow Park Farmers’ Market
Our project aims to foster and encourage urban agriculture and provide a space for urban growers to participate at our farmers’ market. Urban agriculture increases access to local fresh produce, reduces barriers to accessing farmland, creates green spaces that help cool the city and clean the air, tackles climate change, provides pollinator-friendly habitat, brings people together, builds stronger communities and so much more! We launched our pilot project in 2020 – you can learn more about it here.
Are you an urban grower? Learn more about the application process here: Learn more.
Seaton Village Farm (Lee and Michael)
During their first season as Urban Growers, Lee and Michael have been excited to see people enjoying the food that they’re passionate about growing. Their salad mix, which contains arugula, kale, mizuna, tatsoi and edible flowers, has sold out several times.
They grow their greens and vegetables not far from the market, in Toronto’s Seaton Village neighbourhood. To grow food sustainably in a small backyard, Lee and Michael practice permaculture gardening techniques. For example, instead of planting vegetables in rows, they “companion plant” plants that work well together near each other.
“It’s not just about production, it’s about creating a healthy, vibrant, biodiverse plot of land,” explained Lee.
The two growers don’t take space for granted and enjoy helping others plan and plant organic plants in their own yards. As they can attest, even a small garden can generate enough food to share! Connect with them on Instagram: @seatonvillagefarm
Edith’s Garden Goods (Wil)
The mint and catnip Wil sells often comes in small bouquets with a few seasonal flowers – a mix of the practical and beautiful, much like his approach to gardening.
“Growing food is a good skill to have, it’s a peaceful hobby, and the garden is full of small wonders,” said Wil. He regards his garden as a habitat and tries to focus on pollinator-friendly and indigenous plants. To minimize his impact on the soil, he also practices no-digging gardening techniques.
The yield has always been more than he can use, and for years Wil has enjoyed sharing his produce with friends and family. For him, it was a natural step to share his herbs and vegetables at the market as the first-ever Withrow Market Urban Grower.
Now, the good things growing in Wil’s garden are available for all to enjoy – tomatoes, kale, cucumbers, bitter melons, herbs, and sometimes, a few flowers too!
Good Boy Farm (Melissa)
Like many urban growers, Melissa is a firm believer that great things can grow in small spaces. The proof? She recently built a garden that produces more than she needs on her 12-by-10-foot balcony in downtown Toronto. Much like the city itself, she has made the most of every square foot by using vertical space. “You can do so much with a balcony,” said Melissa.
Melissa took up gardening during the pandemic. As a busy hospital worker, she found the activity to be a lifesaver for her mental health. She’s enjoyed experimenting, “nerding out” with other gardeners and sharing her lessons learned with other newcomers. It’s part of the reason why she likes being a part of the Withrow Market Urban Grower Project.
In the spring, Melissa sells her spare seedlings at the market and is a fantastic resource for budding balcony-growers. She grows many balcony staples – beans, peas, tomatoes, and several kinds of peppers. Connect with them on Instagram: @rolo_adventure_pup
Peter has been growing his own vegetables for over 30 years, and he’s an avid seed collector. He’s collected seeds from all over the world – from Greek snapdragons to Cuban calla lilies. This year, he shared his passion (and some of his rare plants!) with fellow local gardeners at the market. Peter joined us for a few markets at the start of June with his seedlings.