Courtesy of Ming Pao Daily News
The brilliant sun smiled upon rich fertile soil as the earth welcomed new varieties of world crops to the famous Fairmont Royal York Hotel rooftop garden. David Garcelon, Executive Chef at the Royal York Hotel, is adding fresh new ingredients to his menu this summer, thanks to Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in partnership withOntario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. This collaboration, which started in 2010, enables the testing of new world crops in Vineland research fields and on farms in Ontario’s Greenbelt.
It was an honour to witness the planting of small round eggplants, okra and Chinese red hot peppers at Royal York’s rooftop oasis, which stands not only as a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, but also as a testament to innovation and variety in agriculture.
Toronto is bursting with diversity and this new trend in agriculture is a true reflection of this demographic. More than half of Torontonians were not born in Canada and by 2031, 63 per cent of the GTA's residents will be immigrants. A University of Guelph and FarmStart study found that $61 million dollars a month is spent on Chinese, South Asian and Afro-Caribbean vegetables in the GTA. These products are largely imports. This initiative intends to change that by putting a "fresh" spin on local produce by taking it global.
According to Ahmed Bilal, lead world crop specialist at Vineland, “this research will expand the diversity of what is grown locally and farmers will have a fresh competitive advantage in a new marketplace to attract discerning buyers like Chef Garcelon.”
We boast of the many diverse communities and cultures in Toronto and I dare to imagine a City that also boasts of a diverse local, sustainable food system.
Esther Lambert, Program Assistant