Urban Farming with GWLRA

GWL Realty Advisors, a real estate company operating throughout Canada and beyond, distinguishes itself by its focus on growth and sustainability. Having 86% of their portfolio green-certified and always looking for innovative ways of having a positive impact on the environment and their communities, they partnered with MicroHabitat in 2020, looking to take advantage of under-utilized space on rooftops. Last summer, GWLRA roofs were the home of 17 gardens that produced 5,200 pounds of fresh herbs and vegetables!

Zoë, chief urban farmer in Toronto, harvesting crops on the roof of City Centre Plaza

MicroHabitat’s projects allowed GWLRA to contribute in three main areas: community, sustainability, and food security. Elizabeth Schreurs, Vice President, Property Management GTA/Corporate Properties, is the one who led the initiative. “Green roofs are great, they help offset the heat dome within the city of Toronto and that’s a good thing,” she explained, “but the fact that you can have green on your rooftop and it gives back to the community, that to me is the ultimate goal.”

In an effort to help those in need, GWLRA has been donating the harvests to local food banks like The Stop in Toronto, one of the oldest food banks in Canada. Additionally, their involvement with MicroHabitat means that 985 breakfasts have been provided to children across the country through the Breakfast Club of Canada.

The rooftop gardens were also a great opportunity to get tenants involved. “Having the urban farms on our rooftops has been an incredible educational opportunity,” said Schreurs. “We’ve found there is a great deal of interest in how the program is run, how the farms are maintained, and where the food goes.” Tenants were able to learn more about urban farming through educational activities throughout the season, which also helped create stronger connections between the gardens and the tenants.

While GWLRA now has gardens on rooftops in Montreal and Vancouver, Toronto remains the home of the majority of their projects with MicroHabitat, with 14 gardens spread across the GTA. The hard work our Toronto team puts in every week in order to see these gardens flourish is crucial to enable companies like GWLRA to cultivate change and positively impact both the environment and communities across North America.

Maintenance visit of Crossroads Corporate Centre’s urban farm in Toronto

Want to play your part in protecting the environment and implement urban agriculture in your organization? Contact our team of urban farming advisors!