On May 5, 2017, the Québec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the city of Montréal, UQAM and the Palais des congrès de Montréal announced the creation of a partnership tasked with setting up the Carrefour de recherche, d’expertise et de transfert en agriculture urbaine, or CRETAU, a network focused on urban farming research and expertise, and the transfer of urban farming best practices.
The organization AU/LAB was entrusted with coordinating the network, whose purpose is to render businesses that embrace urban farming more efficient, profitable and competitive. More specifically, CRETAU’s aim is to foster ties between the various parties operating in urban farming within Québec, Canada and abroad.
The work of CRETAU covers 4 areas: rooftop farming, greenhouse farming, indoor farming and soil farming. VERTical, one of the projects of the Palais des congrès de Montréal Urban Agriculture Lab, falls under the first category. Says Raymond Larivée, President and CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montréal: “We are proud of the leadership role we play both within the industry and the community through tangible sustainable development actions. By opening the Urban Agriculture Lab, the Palais is contributing to reducing heat islands, while simultaneously proudly promoting Montréal’s reputation as a world-class city committed to fostering urban sustainability. Besides being firmly aligned with our mission, the intellectual benefits stemming from CRETAU will inspire researchers from here and elsewhere in the world.”
In the Québec government 2017-2018 budget speech, urban faming was referred to as an innovative farming method. And according to Éric Duchemin, Scientific Director and Head of Training at AU/LAB: “The advent of CRETAU will help further consolidate AU/LAB’s research, training and interventions, and also enable Québec to shine as a world leader on urban farming issues. In addition, CRETAU will make it possible to build on the ideas and measures undertaken in recent years on how municipalities could integrate urban farming into their urban planning as a means of dealing with climate change, social cohesion and economic development.”
The projects the Palais des congrès de Montréal Urban Agriculture Lab works on are primarily focused on helping reduce urban heat islands and improve air quality in the Montréal downtown area, encourage the real estate industry and property owners to adopt concrete steps toward greening their rooftops, and promote Montréal’s reputation as a world-class city firmly committed to fostering urban sustainability. The Palais’ Urban Agriculture Lab includes:
- Culti-VERT, a technological showcase for green roofs and container gardening (flowers, plants, fruit, vegetables);
- Three (3) pollinating beehives; and
VERTical, an urban agriculture project driven by new vertical farming technology that is based on free-standing structures equipped with experimental wall tarps.