Who We Are
Since 2011, From the Root to the City has been growing food on the unceded territory of Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), teaching children and teenagers about gardens and gardening, feeding families in the Peter-McGill neighbourhood, and participating along with other organisations in greening the city. The mission of the project has evolved over the years from a focus on general employment skills for youth to include a robust, three-pronged approach.
Our Mission for the Ground
we are committed to healthy soil practices, to planting primarily indigenous food plants, to sourcing our seeds and seedlings from local seed breeders and seedling producers, and to practicing organic, regenerative agriculture.
Our Mission for Youth
we are committed to providing young people with job training in community work and agriculture work, setting them up to go on to careers in one or both of these fields.
Our Mission for the Community
we are committed to growing food the community wants to eat, in a way that aligns with community desires and grows community knowledge, in accessible sites that welcome all members of the community to work the soil
Our Garden Sites
Concordia Visual Arts Building
The “VA” is our oldest site! We began there in 2013. This site is our largest in-ground location, and we have been working on improving the soil here for many years. Although many of our sites have come and gone over the years, our longevity at the VA allows us to track the program’s overall progress. The VA’s combination of beautiful sun – threatened recently by the erection of new skyscrapers – and sheltering wall make it an ideal location for growing plants that prefer the heat. Because it is in-ground, rather than in raised beds or boxes, we’re also able to use some more traditional agricultural techniques. In the past, we have grown corn, beans, squash, and melons using the Three Sisters technique, as well as small fruits, tomatoes, greens, garlic, and many kinds of perennial herbs. The VA is undergoing some serious soil work this year: it will be lying fallow under cover crops of radish, camellina, comfrey, and fava beans. The VA is also our principal teaching and learning garden! Because of the sheltering wall and large lawn, it is the ideal location for our garden club to meet, and we host many community activities there as well. We also use it as Site Zero for experiments with new varieties, techniques, and soil amelioration strategies. The lessons we learn at the VA help improve the entire project!
Evangel Pentecostal Church
We installed raised beds at Evangel in 2017, in partnership with the church and Urban Seedling. The garden continues to be our flagship for partnerships with faith organisations. The Evangel site consists of raised beds of several sizes, where we grow indigenous herbs and edible flowers, as well as perennial food plants like bunching onion, rhubarb, and sunchokes. This garden is also the place where we receive most of our volunteers. The produce in this garden is designated for neighbourhood use, so anyone passing by is welcome to help themselves to harvest! In 2021, we are launching a partnership with the Eco-Quartier of Peter-McGill to plant fruiting shrubs, install more seating, and educate the neighbourhood on perennial food plants.
In partnership with Destination Centre-Ville, in 2018 we installed 10 boxes around Square Victoria. These boxes represent an opportunity for us to teach the city at large about the ornamental value of edible plants! We grow fancy greens here, as well as shade-loving edible flowers and herbs. The boxes don’t get a lot of sun, so we’re limited in what we can plant, but we never fail to get a great harvest (and lots of compliments!) from this garden. Because it is quite far from the Innovation Youth centre, we don’t get to it as often as other sites, which has informed our planting. In addition to being beautiful, our produce at Square Vic is hardy, drought-resistant, and free to take up as much space as it likes. In 2021, this project is on pause as the Square undergoes renovation, but we hope to return in 2022!
de la Montagne/de Maisonneuve
A new addition in 2020, this site is another in-ground location where we are excited to work with some challenging soil! As it is another part of our partnership with Destination Centre-Ville, we are guided by a mandate to beautify the city, but we also discovered here that, as a result of being right next to a parking lot, the soil is contaminated with toxic runoff from the asphalt. This is therefore our only non-edible garden, although we like to say that beauty nourishes the soul! The dry, hard-packed soil here is home to a wide variety of drought-hardy desert perennials, whose roots are covered by a thick layer of coconut husk mulch to keep them safe from the way passerby use these gardens as ashtrays. We are very excited by the opportunity this site represents for us to green “unlikely spaces” of the city! In 2021, this project is on pause as our partners re-evaluate the way the parking lot the site surrounds is being used.
Versailles Community Gardens
In partnership with the Native Women’s Shelter, in 2021 we will be helping residents there set up and maintain their garden plot at the Versailles community garden. The purpose of the site is to expand our relationship with the shelter and its residents, which we’re doing in part by hosting a garden club directly on the site! We’ll be growing vegetables of various kinds, particularly those beloved by children (can you say “carrots”?), as well as culinary and medicinal herbs and a small tea garden.
In 2018 and 2019, our partnership with the Roundhouse Café involved primarily produce from the Evangel garden. As we’ve moved more toward a community-harvest approach for the Evangel site, we’re very happy that we’ll be growing vegetables and herbs exclusively for the Café, starting in 2021! Planter boxes around the Café, provided in partnership with the City of Montreal, will feature culinary herbs, greens, hot peppers, and maybe even some edible flowers for a pop of colour. All the produce in this garden will be used in meals offered by the Roundhouse Café, which is where we often end up eating lunch anyway.
Mary, Queen of the World
As part of our partnership program with faith organisations, we’re excited to partner with the Catholic Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral. Because the site is multi-functional, our approach is as well: we’ll be transforming a lawn used by neighbourhood children into a sea of indigenous grasses (still playable, just more sustainable!); creating flower beds and labyrinths for use as prayer and meditation spaces, focusing on plants that are sacred to Mary, for whom the Cathedral is named; and growing vegetables both for use by residents on the Cathedral grounds and as part of our transformation of part of the Cathedral site to a “snack garden.” In 2021, we are focusing on the first stages of the snack garden and the development of the first perennial flower garden, while continuing to maintain our raised bed garden that feeds the residents.
Hector Toe-Blake Park
On this tiny park, we have three large boxes! In 2021, we will be planting a very wide variety of vegetables, as part of our pilot community planning project. Over the course of the summer, community members will get to see all these plants in action in the park, so that, when the fall comes around, we can host a dreaming session where community members can contribute to Hector’s 2022 plan (including answering the question of whether three boxes is really enough!). The sun at this park is just spectacular, although it, like many of our other sites, does not have water access, so we have to bring water to it. We opened this site in the summer of 2020 in collaboration with the City of Montreal, who provided the beautiful cedar boxes.
Ste-Catherine Street Installation
As part of our ongoing collaboration with Destination Centre-Ville, we are delighted to announce that in 2021 we will be planting and maintaining the green infrastructure of the [project name] installation on Ste-Catherine Street between [street] and [street]! This installation is designed for inclusive community sharing, and our planting plan is part of that: edible flowers, herbs, and easily-harvested greens will make up the bulk of what we plant. Just like our Evangel garden, these beautiful planters will be open-harvest, meaning that we will be providing signage to guide community members in how to respectfully harvest whatever they’d like for their own kitchens. We’ll also be hosting community education sessions and food justice dreaming activities in this installation.
Learning Gardens Program
In 2021, From the Root to the City welcomes six interns between the ages of 14 and 22, who will work three days each week, rotating through all the zones of the project, including a rotation at Ferme de l’Ile Montreal, a partner farm on the West Island. Over the course of eight weeks (starting June 28th and ending August 20th), they will be involved in preparing soil, planting, caretaking, harvesting, and in transforming produce for the Innovation Assistance food bank. They will also participate in the environmental education activities organised by the program, including both giving and being participants in workshops, engaging with younger children, and teaching neighbourhood families about the produce we provide.
Are you interested in being one of our interns? We’re accepting applications until June 11th! Email your completed application to Jessica.
- An interest in growing food, working with your hands, and learning about and with the community
- Comfort doing a lot of walking!
- Availability between 9 and 3 on Tuesdays (gardens), Thursdays (food bank), and Fridays (gardens + farmer’s markets)
In partnership with the Innovation Youth Children’s Library, we offer a weekly Garden Club on Wednesdays from 10-2. The Garden Club is open to all children aged 6-11 who are interested in or curious about the environment, growing food, and learning about our city’s green spaces. Activities are primarily focused on our gardens, with lots of opportunities to ask questions and get silly! Depending on provincial health restrictions, the Garden Club may also do some cooking.
The Garden Club runs the weeks of July 5th to August 23rd, 2021. Registration is required and is open until June 21st, or until all the places are full, whichever comes first. There are no fees to attend Garden Club; however, children must bring their own lunches
In 2021, we are hosting a community consultation process for our gardens at Hector Toe-Blake. Information about consultation sessions will be updated on this webpage and on our social media.
In 2021, we are hosting environmental education sessions as part of our partnership with the Eco-Quartier of Peter-McGill. Information about these sessions will be updated on this webpage and on our social media.
In 2021, we are hosting community sign-making sessions to beautify our gardens! Information about these sessions will be updated on this webpage and on our social media.
We are supporting the work of the Seed-to-Table project! Click here to learn more.
Are you interested in volunteering in the gardens?
- Our regular volunteering schedule will be available in late May, and information will be available on this webpage and our social media!
- We’re having a Planting Week Bonanza May 25th-28th! Click here to sign up!
- If you are interested in volunteering before May 25th, please contact Jessica!
We welcome your support, both in the form of donations and in the form of prayer. Please click here to be taken to the Innovation Youth donation page, and here if you would like to receive our prayer calendar (weekly through June-September and monthly the rest of the year).
If you are interested in keeping up with news from all our gardens, follow us on Instagram! We post weekly updates through May-October, and monthly the rest of the year.