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Frais du toit

Frais du toit

Learn to garden with Phil and Tim

You’d like to experience the pleasure of growing your own fruits and vegetables? The venture may seem complex or likely to fail, but with a few basic lessons, success is (practically) guaranteed!

That’s why Phil Lacroix went to meet Tim, the gardener in charge of the green roof of the IGA Extra Famille Duchemin in Saint-Laurent. Together, they discover and share everything you need to know to bring your first plants into the world, no matter your level of experience or how much space you have at home.

Apprendre à Jardiner - la base

To make way for urban development, most of the agricultural land on the island of Montréal has disappeared. But on the roof of an IGA in Ville Saint-Laurent, entrepreneurs have taken action to cultivate a new open-air food source. Jean-Martin Fortier meets them.

IGA - frais du toit - Apprendre a jardiner - la survie

Extreme weather conditions? Insects and animals can’t wait to get their hands (or paws) on your precious crops? Find out how to protect them.

Apprendre à jardiner - l'entretien

Jean-Martin decides to trace the roots of the roof. He looks into what was grown on the site of the Duchemin family’s grocery store during the last century. For assistance, he turns to a historian and a specialist in heirloom seeds.

Apprendre à jardiner - la récolte

Honour your beginner gardening efforts by properly harvesting your crops and savouring them when they’re perfectly ripe. You’ll make a lot of people happy... starting with yourself!

This summer, the largest organic supermarket green roof garden in the country will be getting back to the land. In a three-episode web series, market gardener Jean-Martin Fortier will find out what was growing on the site of IGA extra Famille Duchemin a hundred years ago. On his journey through Québec’s agricultural past, he’ll discover an illustrious family of growers and long-forgotten variety of tomatoes. How could he not end up wanting to grow a little bit of our heritage up top?

Discover The Roots of the Roof, a refreshing story of passion and tradition.

The largest organic supermarket green roof garden in the country.  The fruit of an ambitious project brought to life by the Duchemin family

IGA Famille Duchemin

Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough now boasts a green roof with the largest organic garden located on a supermarket roof in the country. The grocery store IGA extra Famille Duchemin will now offer its customers certified organic produce grown on its own roof. This cutting-edge store is also in the process of obtaining silver LEED certification. IGA grocery store owners Richard, Daniel, and Francis Duchemin teamed up with urban farmers from La ligne verte (Green Line: Green Roof) to bring this ambitious project to life, and encountered a ton of challenges and just as many anecdotes along the way.

Three challenges successfully met

Three challenges successfully met

  1. Fertilizing a thin layer of soil The soil on the store’s green roof is only 150 mm deep. Generally speaking, plants requiring little care and few nutrients would be grown in such conditions—the exact opposite of vegetables! An agronomist was therefore called in to develop and adapt a fertilization plan. Last fall, for example, the team spread fertilizer in most of the plots to supplement the soil with organic matter.
  2. Beating wind and heat Wind and heat are more intense on a roof. To resolve the problem, the team installed windbreaks and shadehouses.
  3. Securing plant stakes, but not in the ground Staking plants is more complicated on a roof since it’s impossible to secure the stakes in the ground. The team came up with a brilliant solution—they took plastic buckets that would have ended up in the store’s recycling bin, filled them with cement, and inserted steel rods to serve as stakes.

Three funny anecdotes

This spring, farmers found a bird nest with four eggs inside. The eggs hatched a few weeks later. The farmers have since shared the roof with a small family of killdeer.

A small family of ducks also made its home on the roof this past spring. The family left after a few weeks.

Urban farmers from The Green Line and the Duchemin family noticed that the store’s neighbours like watching the project’s progress from their small balconies while sipping coffee or cooking on the grill.

Three funny anecdotes

Iga, the green line, and alvéole work together to bear fruit

Iga, the green line, and alvéole work together to bear fruit

This ambitious organic green roof garden project would not have been possible without the urban farmers from The Green Line. Their expertise made it possible to build the garden using traditional farming techniques, while overcoming the many technical challenges of farming in the city...on a roof, no less! The company Alvéole also contributed to the project by providing bee hives that produced close to 600 pots of honey in fall 2017.

To produce 600 jars of honey, Alvéole had to first create a bee colony by introducing a new queen to 10,000 bees in hopes they would accept her as their new leader.

View the videos (French only)

IGA - Frais du toit

IGA – Live Harvesting