Hospitality & Retail Services Social Responsibility

UTM Farm Walls

Background:

UTM grows its own herbs and leafy greens. Nestled right in our very own Colman Commons we have seven vertical structures with eight vertical towers in each (56 towers total), and have grown over 230.9 kilos of produce since its inception. We have trained staff who maintain the farm walls and harvest the greens when they are ready for our on campus kitchens. All non-branded kitchens on campus have access to our UTM-grown leafy greens and herbs.

The farm wall grows plants hydroponically which means rather than using soil, it uses a nutrient solution. The water nourishes the roots, collects in a gutter and then recirculates back to a nutrient tank that feeds back into the hydroponic system. While this may sound like it is heavy on electricity, it is actually very efficient.

Where you can find them:

If you have been by Colman Commons you may have noticed them by the convenience area. There are plants growing seemingly out of glowing white fluorescent, six foot tall vertical structures – those are the UTM Farm Walls!

Why it is important:

Not only are we saving on purchasing, but we are also decreasing the carbon footprint that goes along with mass farming, packaging, and delivery. This method of growing can use up to 99% less water, has no environmental runoff from fertilizers, grows approximately two weeks faster than outdoor agriculture, and uses little to no pesticides and herbicides. It offers a plan to handle future food demands, allows all crops to grow year-round as they are not affected by weather, and it is almost organic-level farming.

Crops:

We have already grown over 60 types of produce, including kale, lettuce, thyme, arugula, cilantro, peppermint, basil, and parsley and are producing an average of 12.8 kilos of leafy greens and herbs each month. At full capacity, the farm can grow 560 plants (56 towers x 10 plants per tower); of course that will depend on what is growing. Each plant has a lifespan of about 5-7 harvests, which is usually a couple of months. 

Take a moment to head over to Colman Commons in OPH to take a look at the UTM Farm Walls, take a pic and hashtag #UTMfarmWalls, and make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the next time you order something with herbs and leafy greens! It may have been grown on our very own UTM campus.


Your UTM gardeners:

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Questions? Contact us -

hospitality.utm@utoronto.ca
(905) 569-4795
Davis Building suite 3127