Withrow’s Urban Grower Project
A community-led project developed by 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!
Jamie is a local documentary filmmaker. She started growing veggies about 5 years ago and then converted her entire backyard into a kitchen garden. This journey was chronicled in her recent film: In My Backyard. Using her personal story as a starting point, Jamie branches out to look at the various solutions that backyard gardeners and urban growers have dreamed up and implemented in Toronto.
We are huge fans of the film! It even includes Sean Smith of Crooked Farmz and Maria Solakofski of Wild By Nature. See details about the in-person community film screenings available this summer! Connect on Instagram: @fleckproductions
James is a musician and sound engineering grad with a deep passion for growing food. He was recently employed as a lab technician at an indoor Hydroponic and Aquaponic farm in Etobicoke, who’s mission was to bring organic and low carbon footprint greens to locals in the city. James began with a couple cacti in 2014, but his interest in plants quickly spiraled into an interest in food production, and then specifically into a passion for regenerative agriculture and permaculture methods. James is very interested in the Urban Grower Project as it seems like a perfect way for prospective market gardeners to get their feet wet in the space, as well as providing a platform for home gardeners to share their excess with the community, and placing a spotlight on the viability of urban agriculture, highlighting how much can be produced from a small urban lot when a lawn isn’t the main focus.
Amanda Di Sarra
Gardening has always been a tradition in Amanda’s family. Coming from Italian heritage having a veggie garden in the summer months was non negotiable, the tradition grew into a passion. Over the past 5 years Amanda has harvested seeds from her most impressive fruits and veggies and started growing her own plants. She always had more than she knew what to do with, even after distributing to neighbours, friends and family. Amanda’s very interested in extending her reach into the Urban Grower Project as a way to share her traditions and expand her hobby business.
Sarah is a young East-end resident who started growing her own food to access healthier food on a low income during COVID (like turning 2tbs of mung beans into 2 cups of sprouts!). She enjoyed it so much she’s expanding what she grows through a lawn share opportunity this year. She’s excited to move beyond indoor growing for the 2022 season and use living soil + practice low/no till farming. All of Sarah’s gardening so far has been car-free, and she hopes to bike or TTC her produce to market as well.