Siri Van Gruen

Discarded Ikea Bed

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I recently made a raised garden bed in front of the window in my bedroom. It seeded itself in recycled wood that I salvaged from a discarded Ikea bed.

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I used whatever I had on hand. Friends and neighbors provided me with all the tools and supplies that I needed, and my friend Austin built most of the structure.

Many hours and screws later, we had our finished project.

I trekked on the 419 to Walmart and Home Depot and filled my backpacking pack with soil. It was so heavy that I thought I was going to fall over backwards when I tried to stand up. I also bought a tarp for cheap waterproofing.

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My last step was plants. I made an order at the seed library, but it was taking too long so I biked three kilometres to Ile-Perrôt, where I bought parsley, rosemary, and basil plants, as well as lettuce seeds. They’ve been doing well ever since.

The whole project was very affordable—under $25—but it could have been just $13 had I waited for the seed library at McGill’s Macdonald Campus to respond to me instead of rushing to the pricier garden store. Still, I’m excited to reap the benefits of growing plants: better air quality, fresh herbs for meals, and a beautiful addition to my bedroom.

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Unfortunately, we’ve built most of our cities on top of the best soil, resulting in cultivable farmland that is disappearing at an increasing rate. Our industrial food supply is wreaking havoc on the environment and health of citizens. Food is being shipped unnecessary distances, decreasing its nutritional value while driving up prices. Food deserts have developed and eating healthily is becoming less and less accessible to lower income individuals.

The safety net in food security is lost when we rely on centralized agriculture systems. Urban agriculture initiatives reconnect the public with their food supply and allow them to have nutritious, local food.

The Montreal-based company Lufa builds hydroponic greenhouses on top of roofs. Through good design, a hydroponic greenhouse can be extremely efficient in water recycling and energy conservation. Greenhouses and indoor projects let us savour local produce even during harsh winters.

Companies like Lufa and my own personal bedroom garden project are proof that urban agriculture is possible and worthwhile. Whether you have a backyard, a window sill, or a community initiative nearby, growing some of your own produce doesn’t have to be difficult.