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Current Research Projects

Photo Diary: Watch Our Garden Grow 2022

This spring and summer 2022, the Trinity Food Systems lab expanded upon work from 2021 through the following projects:

  • Producing food on campus by maintaining the raised bed garden and basement seedling room at St. Hilda’s College
  • Experimenting with rooftop gardens and observing native plants to better understand pollinator relationships
  • Engaging with the community about urban agriculture and exploring our role in the environment

By reading this timeline, you can learn more about some of the specific events and activities that took place. Click on the thumbnails below to view images.

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July 2022 – Fruits Forming: Our plants – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squashes, and carrots – have started growing fruits that will be ready for harvest soon!


June & July 2022 – Squash Plants Through the Season: Squash Plants Throughout the Season: Though the squash plants began with only a few leaves, they have grown bigger and bigger throughout the summer and are now massive! They have just started to grow gourds (see above).


July 2022 – Experimenting with Native Plants: To support pollinators on the rooftop and increase native biodiversity in our gardens, we decided to get some native plants from the nursery Native Plants in Claremont (1st thumbnail on left below). We weren’t sure what types of native plants would do well with the semi-hydroponic containers that we have on the roof, so we’re doing some experimenting. We’ve also planted some edible native plants in our raised beds!


June & July 2022 – Native Plant Rescue: A member of our community had too many native plants in their yard, so we put them in our gardens. Including native plants in gardens is an important part of making food systems sustainable. It allows us to support at-risk ecosystems and native pollinators (which also pollinate our crops!). Not pictured here, but we recently saw a monarch butterfly (now threatened) on the milkweed. Plants pictured: common milkweed, swamp milkweed, meadow rue, and evening primrose.


June & July 2022 – Herb Garden: In the backyard of St. Hilda’s College, we have an herb garden designed by Raquel Serrano, who researched the mental health benefits herbs offer through aromatized VOCs, nutrient consumption and the gardening process!


June 30, 2022 – Rock Painting: We did a fun rock-painting event with our team to add some colour to our gardens!


End of May to early July 2022 – Rooftop Garden: These are photos from our rooftop garden experiment at our building on the Munk School. You can see the setup of the experiment, the strawberry flowers and fruit as well as the cucumber flowers and fruit.


Early June – Early Raised Beds: Photos of the raised beds from the beginning of the season, shortly after everything was planted and before the plants were attacked by squirrels. Pictured here: cauliflower, kale and beans shortly after being planted.


Late May & Early June 2022 – Zucchini Planting & Flowering: We planted our zucchini in late May and shortly afterwards it began to produce large, yellow flowers. Zucchini produces both male and female flowers. These flowers seem to be highly attractive to ants!


Late May & Early June 2022 – Pepper Flowers: Peppers were one of the first flowers to appear in our gardens. They’re very interesting because they flower upside down! Learn more on Instagram


Late May – First Tomato Plantings & Flowers: We also planted our tomatoes in May and they began to flower shortly afterwards.


Mid-May 2022 – Cucumber Repotting Roof Experiment: This year we did an experiment on the two opposing rooftops of the Munk building. On one roof we grew cucumbers with wild strawberries (a native crop) and on the other roof we grew cucumbers only. We wanted to see the effect of a native plant (strawberry) on pollinator numbers and crop (cucumber) yields of rooftop gardens. For this experiment we grew 100 cucumber seedlings in trays and then repotted them so that they could grow larger before they were put on the roof.


Mid-May 2022 – First Planting of Squash: This was the first raised bed that we planted this year. It included two types of winter squash (Avalon and Butternut) and the native plant Virginia Mountain Mint to support pollinators. This is our first year planting squash, so we’re really excited to see how it goes!


May 2022 – Seedling Room: The last frost usually happens around early May, so this is when our seedling rooms are most full. This is also around when we start hardening our plants – gradually exposing them to sunlight so that they become used to the outdoors.


April 2022 – Repotting: By late April we have repotted the seedlings that we began earlier in the month. This gives them more space and nutrients to grow.


April 2022 – Planting Seedlings: To be ready right away for planting after the last frost and to protect plants in their early stages, we begin growing indoors in late March and early April. These are some of the first seedlings we planted – squash, tomato, pepper, cauliflower and kale.


January 2022 – Microgreens: Over the winter months we’ve been trying out hand at growing microgreens! Student research assistants have temporarily repurposed the seedling growing space in the basement of St. Hilda’s College to grow these nutrient-packed greens. View post on Instagram


Expanding Trinity’s Growing Spaces 2021

We are currently working to expand our growing season, and convert unused spaces at Trinity into urban agriculture spaces. We are considering numerous options for implementation, including indoor vertical growing, growth chambers, and a greenhouse.

Spring 2021 Update: View Photos

May 2021 Update

After months of planning, our on-site garden maintenance crew has installed six new raised beds in the front yard of St. Hilda’s College. This summer, these beds will be used to grow the crops that we have started in the indoor seedling space, but we hope to expand access through allotment plots in future years.



April 2021 Update

Our seeds have arrived and we have officially started planting our seedlings for this summer’s growing season! We are very excited to grow a huge variety of plants and test our food production capabilities this summer. Our summer research assistants are gearing up to start transplanting and planting seeds outside, and we are brainstorming some exciting research projects to study the potential impacts of urban agriculture at Trinity. Check out the photos below for a sneak peek at the plants we’re growing!



March 2021 Update

In January 2021, the SFSRG began converting an unused office space in the basement of St. Hilda’s College into an indoor seedling space. We will use this space to start our seedlings for the Summer 2021 growing season, allowing us to extend our growing season, increase self-sufficiency, and provide surplus seedlings and plants to members of the Trinity community. In March 2021, we replaced existing furniture with shelving units, added LED lights, and started using the new set-up by planting test seeds.



Partnership with Feeding the City

Our students are working with Feeding the City to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the food system, particularly how community food support systems and provisioning programs have been affected and delivered on local and national scales. Read blog posts by current and past members here.

Current ROP Projects

Stay tuned for information about current projects by Summer ROP, work-study, and intern students.


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To get involved with the Trinity Food Systems Lab, email: fsl@trinity.utoronto.ca

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