It's time to start your own urban garden

The Greenhouse and City Farm School share the fruits — or rather, seeds — of their labour
May 12, 2015
By Sara DuBreuil

More than 140 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flower seedlings will be on offer at the annual seedling sale. More than 140 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flower seedlings will be on offer at the annual seedling sale. | Photo by Concordia University

Warm spring weather has finally arrived in Montreal. The grass is greening, trees are budding and temperatures are gradually climbing into the twenties.

It’s the perfect time of year to start planning a garden plot or balcony planter. And if you’re wondering where to buy the seeds or herbs to get started, Concordia’s Greenhouse and City Farm School have you covered.

On May 15 and 16, the Greenhouse, located on the 13th floor of the Henry F. Hall Building (H), will be hosting a huge seedling sale with more than 140 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flower seedlings on offer — all grown naturally by City Farm School interns.

“It’s a great introduction for people who are new to urban agriculture and gardening,” says Jackie Martin, City Farm School coordinator. “Interns start the process from the very beginning and learn how to grow their own seeds.”

Martin explains that the seedling sale only represents about one third of the actual project. In total, the farm school and its interns grow 14,000 seedlings annually: 5.000 are given to community organizations through advanced pre-orders, 2,000 are kept for use at Concordia, while the remaining 7,000 are sold to the public.

The locally produced seedlings will be sold for between $1 and $5, and houseplants will range in price from $10 to $30. There will also be small bags of soil and compost for sale, along with mushroom- and sprout-growing kits.

Get there early

The sale is taking place at the Greenhouse from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday for as long as supplies last. Even though there are roughly 7,000 seedlings available, at last check over 8,000 people had responded to the sale's Facebook event page saying they'd be attending, with a steady stream of inquiries and emails coming in.

Introducing Neumark Design

Martin says they typically get a lot of requests for fruit and permaculture plants, produce the Greenhouse doesn’t grow, which is why Neumark Design is participating in this year’s seedling sale

Neumark Design was launched last year by Jonah Neumark, a partner with the City Farm School since its inception, giving workshops on a variety of topics while helping to create and design the farm school’s food forest – a garden that uses perennial edible and fertilizing plants to emulate the ecology of a natural forest.

At the seedling sale, Neumark will have everything from perennial herbs like lavender and thyme to alpine strawberries and currant and gooseberry bushes on offer.

“It'll mostly be landscaping plants that you can use to make tea, to eat or to attract pollinators,” says Neumark, adding that just like the Concordia Greenhouse and City Farm School, he makes sure to use only organic seeds and soil, along with natural fertilizers and recycled and recuperated pots

The seedling sale also marks the start of spring at Concordia’s City Farm School, which means opening day of its market is right around the corner.

“As soon as the sale is over, we’ll start going to the farm at Loyola every day,” says Martin. 

Weather permitting, the farm’s Loyola Market Stand, which sells everything from mixed greens to radishes and tomatoes, will open in June. 

The seedling sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 15 and 16 at the Concordia Greenhouse on the 13th floor of the Henry F. Hall  Building (H) on the Sir George Williams Campus.

Learn about the Concordia Greenhouse and get all the details about the upcoming seedling sale.

Learn more about the City Farm School and the Market Stand

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