'It's my yoga, it relaxes me': Rooftop veggie garden provides salads and serenity

A Charlottetown man is growing veggies three storeys above the busy street below on his rooftop.

Charlottetown man grows everything from zucchini to cucumbers on his roof

Mamdouh Elgharib has a magnificent view of St. Dunstan's Basilica from his rooftop veggie garden. (Pat Martel/CBC)

When Mamdouh Elgharib sold his house in a leafy neighbourhood of Charlottetown in 2014, he didn't want to be a gardener without a garden.

P.E.I. rooftop veggie garden: salads and serenity 0:58

"I knew I was going to miss a garden right away," said Elgharib. "It's one of the things that gives me joy, working in the garden with the vegetables, the flowers."

Mandouh Elgharib plants flowers around his veggie garden to add a colourful splash. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Elgharib bought an old red brick, three-storey building in one of downtown Charlottetown's most vibrant spots — Victoria Row.

And fortunately, there was a small rooftop terrace that Elgharib has turned into a thriving veggie garden.

 'A break from the business of the city'

"It's a refuge," he said. "We're living downtown on Victoria Row with the music and the hustle and the bustle, so sometimes it's a nice escape to come up here on the roof  and sit and just be surrounded with the plants so you take a break from the business of the city," said Elgharib.

Mamdouh Elgharib weeds his plants, with the Charlottetown skyline in the background. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The rooftop garden also provides Elgharib and his wife Margot fresh produce all summer. 

"The basil, I use it all the time in the pasta and in the koftas," said Elgharib.

"The zucchini as soon as it is big enough, I'll be using it for stews and the tomatoes. Margot and I like to eat them raw standing on the terrace here. They are very sweet."

Mamdouh Elgharib shows off one of his sweet peppers. He grows everything from zucchinis to pickling cucumbers. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Elgharib climbs the 69 steps to his paradise in the sky two or three times a day. When he's not relaxing, he's weeding and watering.

"You just watch over them as they grow and do some work. It's my yoga, It relaxes me and it's very calming."

Even the family cat has its own plant. 'She's very happy in the morning when we come up on the terrace, she comes right away and has her breakfast.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

The view up above is breathtaking — from the magnificent spires of St. Dunstan's Basilica to the sailboats in the harbour. 

"I don't know if I'd be very satisfied with living downtown without some plants around me so I'm very lucky and I'm very happy that I was able to do this."

About the Author

Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning where he was a writer-broadcaster and producer. He joined the web team recently to share his passion for great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He retired in Oct. 2019.