MicroHabitat: Cultivating Change

As you drive by 887 Great Northern Way, you would never know that a thriving garden – maintained by MicroHabitat — adorns the roof of this concrete lab and office building.

MicroHabitat’s mission is to build a healthier society by reconnecting people with nature and their food. Since 2016, they have been building urban farms in a variety of settings including terraces, schools, grassy areas, and yes, rooftops. By transforming unused spaces into urban farms, they are creating greener and more resilient cities.

As we have worked with MicroHabitat over the past year, we have appreciated the tremendous care they put into the garden at 887 Great Northern Way. As well, the educational programs they have provided have been very well received by our South Flats tenants.

We chatted recently with Nicholas, the Chief Urban Farmer from MicroHabitat, about their important work.

Why rooftop gardens? What are the benefits to growing on the roof?

Rooftops collect the most heat in the city, many of which sit vacant and are rarely used. This is the perfect opportunity to change something that can often be considered problematic into a positive. When a roof is green, it lowers the heat effect that cities suffer from. Temperatures are often 5 to 10 degrees warmer in cities during the summer months!

What happens with the harvested goods?

After a sunny summer, we are thrilled to share we harvested 300 pounds of vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs from the rooftop gardens. All harvested goods go directly to the tenants and to local food banks.

What has been grown at 887 Great Northern Way?

887 Great Northern Way is one of our sun gardens, which means we have been lucky enough to grow a wide variety of plants including tomatoes, eggplants, hot peppers, onions, cucumbers, and many other vegetables and herbs.

After our final harvest back in October, we winterized the garden beds so that they will be ready for new plants next year.

Lastly, any tips for people who want to get started growing their own garden?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! It’s part of the fun. Be creative, ask for help and try to take notes on issues you have in your first season. I find it helps you remember for the next year. Also, take many photos of your progress! Every year gets better. Oh, and finally, enjoy the food! Nothing tastes better than a tomato grown from home.

Thank you, Nicholas!