Media Releases

U of T rooftop garden feeds a community

August 25, 2010

TORONTO, ON – A rooftop garden is providing fresh produce to a local food bank and a community kitchen, thanks to the volunteer efforts of University of Toronto Engineering graduate students.

With help from a Live Green Toronto grant, U of T’’s “Sky Garden” has tripled in size in its second year of growing and now features a variety of plants including tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, zucchini, beans, basil, parsley, rosemary and lettuce. Using unique semi-hydroponic containers made by the Canadian company Biotop, the garden’s organizers are projecting a yield this summer of over 100 kgs., which will make the Sky Garden one of the most productive rooftop gardens in Toronto. Seeds and seedlings are heirloom, organic and locally sourced.

“Our goal is to show how rooftop spaces can be used for urban agriculture and to reconnect people to where their food comes from,” says garden co-founder Heather Wray, a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering whose research focus is drinking water. “We supply fresh, organic and locally-grown vegetables to the U of T community and to our volunteers.”

The Sky Garden team comprises a dozen or so volunteers from across the university who ensure the plants receive the right amount of water and fertilizer, as well as weeding, harvesting and other maintenance. Harvested vegetables are also given to the student-run vegan café Hot Yam!, which serves lunch on Thursdays in U of T’s International Student Centre.

“This is a perfect example of how civil engineers can expand the use of urban infrastructure to improve our communities,” says Brenda McCabe, Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at U of T. “What a wonderful idea for urban sustainability!”

To learn more about the Sky Garden, please visit

About Engineering at the University of Toronto

The Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto is the premier engineering institution in Canada. Established as the School of Practical Science in 1873, Engineering at U of T ranks first in Canada and eighth in the world in the 2009 Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings. With approximately 4,850 undergraduate students, 1,600 graduate students and 230 professors, Engineering at U of T is at the fore of research into sustainability.


For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Raymer
Communications & Media Relations
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering
University of Toronto