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Urban Agriculture Lab of the Palais des congrès de Montréal

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The Palais des congrès de Montréal becomes the main1 showcase for experimentation and promotion of the technologies and techniques in urban farming in Québec with this expansive project dedicated to the greening of its rooftops.

Photos of the unveiling Urban Agriculture Lab of the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

Why undertake this major project? We have the duty to contribute positively to a better environment. We have a vast roof area and we believe that it can be put to good use for the advancement of environmental science and for the reduction of heat islands.

Objectives of the Lab

  • Contribute to reducing the heat islands through the greening of our rooftops.
  • Sensitize building owners and managers to do the same.
  • Enable our guests and La Maison du père to enjoy the produce harvested.
  • Contribute to the promotion of Montréal as an international city actively committed to sustainable urban development.

Components of the Lab

1. Culti-VERT

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Experimentation on extensive green roofs and container gardening.
Total are of 5770 ft2. Inaugurated in 2011.

Extensive green roofs without irrigation
Experimentation and innovations: Demonstration of 5 roof parcels of 300 ft², each using a different technology (Soprema, Hydrotech, Liveroof, Xeroflor, and Zinco).

Plant varieties: Sedums and grasses
Irrigation: Rain water

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Container vegetable garden
Experimentation and innovations:

  • Demonstration of 150 Biotop containers, 150 Alternatives containers, and 200 SmartPots.
  • Dye-producing flowers, medicinal plants, ground-cover plants to test the cooling effect on the roof membrane, hops which will be integrated in the beer brewing project within the scope of the 375th anniversary of Montréal, preservation of the plant heritage with rare and old cultivars including strawberry-spinach, Egyptian onions, New Zealand onions, litchi tomatoes, the Sunberry Solanum Burbankii) and chufa sedge (Cyperus esculentus)

Plant varieties:

  • Fruits: Sour cherries (Prunus cerasus), red current (Ribes rubrum), gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa).
  • Vegetables: Peppers, garlic, rhubarb, kale, lettuce, eggplants, fiddlehead fern (Matteuccia), etc. Aromatics: Mint, lemon balm, oregano.
  • Nectar and pollinating plants (by Miel Montréal): giant hyssop, beebalm, golden rod, rudbeckia, etc.
  • Medicinal plants: Rue as well as all the varieties mentioned above.
  • Ornamental plants: Weigela, hibiscus, hackberry, hair grass (Deschampsia), etc.
  • Tinctorial plants (not necessarily species used by dyers): Marigold, cosmos, shiso, nightshade, chamomile and sedum.

Irrigation: Semi-closed hydroponic system (city water and recuperated rainwater).
Annual yield: 650 to 1000 kg.
Distribution of the harvest: To enhance the dishes prepared by Capital Traiteur. A share of the harvest is given to La Maison du Père, an organization that helps the homeless.

Partner for Culti-Vert: La Ligne Verte (including Maxime Dufresne, Horticultural consultant).

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2. Pollinating bee hives

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Installation of hives of pollinating bees in 2012, over an area of 200 ft2.

Experimentation and innovations:

  • Three hives with a total capacity of up to 100,000 bees.
  • Transformation of the beeswax onto products (2016).

Particularity:

  • Italian bees, a species that is well adapted to urban environments and not very aggressive.
  • Season 1: Approximately 30,000 bees occupied the hives.
  • Harvest of approximately 60 to 80 kg of honey per season.
  • Contribute to biodiversity and pollination, including that of the Culti-VERT and VERTical projects.

Partner for the hives: Miel Montréal.

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3. VERTical project

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Project regarding urban vertical farming on scaffolds ‒ a first in North America. Total 6000 ft2 of floor space and 5000 ft2 of vertical space (tarps). Inaugurated in summer 2016.

Experimentation and innovations:

  • Free-standing metal structures equipped with "edible wall" tarps.
  • Natural and synthetic tarps (will, polypropylene, etc.).

Advantages:

  • Contribute to fighting heat islands.
  • Make it possible to increase the density of vegetable production (1ft2 of floor space = 2-3 ft2 of production space).
  • Enjoy flexibility thanks to the free-standing structures.
  • Use of light structures that can be moved and weigh less than a conventional green roof.

Crops: Herbs, fruits, leafy vegetables, and edible flowers.
Irrigation: Semi-closed hydroponic system (city water and recuperated rain water).

Partners for VERTical

  1. AU/LAB, AU/LAB, the urban agriculture research, innovation and intervention
    laboratory association with the Institut des sciences de l'environnement of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM).
  2. La Ligne Verte.

 

ROOF SPACE DEVELOPED
PHASE 1
Terrasse du Palais
19600 ft2
PHASE 2
Culti-VERT
5700 ft2
PHASE 3
Ruche
200 ft2
PHASE 4
VERTical
6000 ft2
TOTAL 31500 ft2 including 11900 ft2 in greening and experimentation/promotion showcase


Press release


1 According to AU/LAB, the Laboratoire de recherche, d’innovation et d'intervention en agriculture urbaine associated with the Institut des sciences de l'environnement of Université du Québec à Montréal