Farming in the city: aquaponics farm comes to Montreal

It's the first vertical first vertical aquaponics farm in the province, which marries aquatic life and agriculture to produce sustainable fruits and vegetables.

Borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie welcomes different kind of urban agriculture

The experimental farm near Jean-Talon Market came with a price tag of $50,000. (Shaun Malley/CBC)

Urban agriculture has found a new home close to Montreal's Jean-Talon Market.

A pair of green and white metal shipping containers hold an experimental hydroponics farm at Place Shamrock, with the goal of teaching Quebecers to think about where their food comes from.

It's the first vertical aquaponics farm in the province, which marries aquatic life and agriculture to provide sustainable fruits and vegetables.

Agriculture in the city

The team of Écosystèmes Alimentaires Urbaines (EAU), the organization behind the educational farm, travelled across Europe and Canada for inspiration, where aquaponics farms are already booming.

"It's all about empowerment," Co-founder Émilie Nollet said. "And food is the basis of life. It's the base of what makes it so we're alive."

The team of Écosystèmes Alimentaires Urbaines (EAU) said the farm is meant to be educational and empowering. (CBC)

The two shipping containers, which are recycled and repurposed, are stacked and connected by a series of pipes. The water feeds plants growing in the top container which includes everything from strawberries to spinach.

The water then flows back down to the bottom floor where blue bins hold hundreds of small fish. It's a self-contained system, so the water is always being treated and recycled.

The farm will be up and running from June to October 2016. (CBC)

'We need these kinds of projects'

The borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie not only welcomed the project, but helped the creators find space and water.

"I want to promote the urban agriculture and let the citizen do a lot of initiatives like this," Mayor François Croteau said.

The experimental farm cost close to $50,000 and required close over 1,000 hours of physical labour just to get it up and running. Co-founder Olivier Demers-Dubé said the farm will help educate visitors on their choices.

"We're constantly asked to be good citizens, but I think a really good way to be a good citizen is to be informed," Demers-Dubé said.

"And to be informed, we need these kinds of projects that are close to us because they allow us to understand  the impact of our day-to-day choices."

Water runs back down the pipes to the second container at the small farm. (CBC)

Nollet says the project is just a first step and that if it is successful, the organization plans to make a larger version and turn it into a thriving business.

The farm runs from June 15 to October 2016 at Place Shamrock in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie.

With files from Shaun Malley