Seneca Urban Farm by Ripple Farms
Seneca’s urban farming unit — a shipping container with a greenhouse on top — focuses on sustainable food production. The facility sits across from the Odeyto Indigenous centre outside Building D at Newnham Campus. It’s home to various species of greens and fish including lettuce, herbs and tilapia.
Inside the farm is an aquaponics system that combines fish farming (aquaculture) and the process of growing food without soil (hydroponics). The ground floor houses up to 140 tilapia fish in the tanks plus a pumping and filtration system that provides nutrient-rich water to the greenhouse on the second floor where lettuce and herbs are grown on rafts floating on water-filled beds. The farm doesn’t generate any waste other than fertilizer that is later used for traditional farming.
The crops harvested from Seneca’s urban farm are provided to the cafeteria at Newnham and other departments on campus, supplying hyperlocal, fresh, zero transportation, package-free greens all year round.
The urban farming unit at Seneca was purchased from Ripple Farms, a venture that was developed in 2017 by Brandon Hebor and Steven Bourne, business partners and graduates of Seneca’s Sustainable Business Management graduate certificate program. The pair created their sustainable urban farming business at HELIX, Seneca’s on-campus business incubator.
The farm is a living lab open to Seneca and the community and has, on average, 500 visitors annually including groups from recruitment, local politicians and schools. If you wish to have a tour of the farm, email Sustainability Supervisor Paula Echeveste.
Indigenous Connections at the Seneca Urban Farm
First Peoples@Seneca collaborates with the farm to grow Indigenous medicines such as tobacco, strawberries, sage and other pollinator plants for their green space. In addition, an eavestrough in the farm’s roof allows rainwater to be collected in a barrel that’s used primarily for the medicinal garden.
In addition, the farm incorporates art and teachings by Chi Taa Kwe, Peggy Pitawanakwat, Anishinaabe, from the First Nation of Wiikwemikoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island.