The grocery store taking food production to new heights

Canadian supermarket, IGA extra Famille Duchemin, has taken efforts to reduce food miles to a whole new level - it’s growing organic vegetables on it’s rooftop.

“A green roof garden allows us to nourish our passion for food while reducing our environmental footprint, something that is particularly important to us,” Richard Duchemin, co-owner of the store says. “We are happy to give life to this innovative project and hope it encourages other companies to follow suit.”

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Over 30 different varieties of organic produce certified by Ecocert Canada are grown on the supermarket’s roof, including lettuce, eggplant, peppers, herbs and tomatoes. They’re sold downstairs in the store, with the tagline “fresh from the roof”.

The roof garden also houses eight bee hives which are expected to produce 600 jars of honey to sell. And in the future flowers may be added to the mix.

Richard Duchemin in the rooftop produce garden on top of his IGA store

Richard Duchemin in the rooftop produce garden on top of his IGA store

“People are very interested in buying local,” Duchemin told the Montreal Gazette. “There’s nothing more local than this. Some restaurants have little boxes where they grow herbs. We pushed it further because we know we’re able to sell what we produce here.”

The idea to grow veges was born after Duchemin was told by his local council he had to install a green roof on the 25,000 square-foot building. Two employees tend the garden, which uses soil instead of a hydroponic system, which is commonly used in rooftop gardens. Keeping the soil fertile on a rooftop is challenging so an agronomist developed a proper fertilization plan.

The irrigation system uses water from the building’s dehumidification system.

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Duchemin says he’s noticed energy costs have decreased in winter because the garden insulates the roof.

And the garden serves a marketing purpose as well. The paths spell IGA, which is visible from planes landing at Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport.