Montréal’s convention centre has planted a rooftop vineyard
The Palais de congrès de Montréal is experimenting with innovative ways to produce food. Their green roof is attracting big attention for its ability to grow large quantities of fresh produce in a relatively small amount of space. While cultivating fresh fruit and veggies is an important part of the rooftop project, the other purpose of the gardens is to explore how a building — such as a convention centre — can minimize its ecological imprint, and even help to reduce the urban heat island affect.
In tackling various food-production initiatives, Montréal’s convention centre has positioned itself as a trailblazer in sustainable development in the meetings and conventions industry.
Think of it as tasteful leadership.
Inaugurated in 2011, the convention centre’s green rooftop and container gardening project spans a whopping 5,770 square feet. Annually, the project yields 650 – 1,000 kilograms of fruit, vegetables and herbs, which are used in the dishes prepared by Capital Catering. The harvest includes such foods as gooseberries, rhubarb, eggplant, fiddlehead ferns — and countless edible delights in between.
Additionally, honeybee hives installed in 2012 shelter up to 100,000 bees. They contribute to biodiversity and pollination of the gardens, while producing a delicious bonus: between 60 – 80 kilograms of honey per season. Sweet!
LET’S GET VERTICAL
How do you make the most of limited gardening spaces? One response is to go (and grow) upwards! Entitled VERTical, the scaffold-based section of the Palais rooftop is the first of its kind in North America. The partnership with UQAM (a local university) explores the potential of increasing vegetable production in small urban spaces through the use of free-standing metal structures equipped with “edible wall” tarps. Harvest items include herbs, fruits, leafy vegetables and edible flowers, and are fed nutrients through a drip-irrigation system that is free of pesticides or herbicides.
WINE ABOUT IT
This year, the Palais des congrès has unveiled Canada’s first urban rooftop vineyard and world’s first in northern environment. Spanning 2,000 square feet, the 80 vines are planted in geotextile containers, and feature a selection of indigenous grape varietals: Frontenac Black, Frontenac White, Marquette, and Petite Pearl. To refabricate the sandy soil ideal for grape growing, organic matter has been mixed with crushed recycled glass (40%).
While it still might take a couple years to uncork a bottle of Montréal Marquette, the initiative highlights the creative vision of the convention centre and an eagerness to partner with innovative groups across the city.