Duncan Mills Housing Co-operative

Located at Don Mills & 401

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In 2006, a project was started to turn a 12th floor terrace (in 15-story co-op building of 221 units) into a sustainable, accessible, chiefly vegetable, community garden. It was the idea of Mary Hynes, who has continued to drive its implementation.

As a first step, Mary explored whether residents in her co-op were interested in pursuing the project, which would be funded principally by a grant from the federal program New Horizons for Seniors. Residents needed to be willing to join a committee to plan the project and help write the grant proposal. Those who signed on had varying gardening experience and none had been part of any community gardening initiatives previously. To date, there has been a core group of about ten consistently active individuals, with about another ten more peripherally involved.

A great deal of research was undertaken, which included one committee member attending a rooftop garden symposium at Toronto Botanical Garden.

The Co-op’s board was approached for permission to convert the existing space into a garden. Permission was given with the proviso that the Co-op did not have funds to contribute. An engineering report was needed to ascertain whether the surface would be strong enough to support a garden. The building is about 15 years old. During the engineering study it was discovered that the terrace had been built with a mind to terrace plantings. This plan was never implemented. During the planning it became obvious that repairs were needed on the terrace to make it safer for people with mobility difficulties.

The terrace garden committee received a $25K grant for the project. It hired Terry McGlade of Gardens in the Sky to design the garden and build the necessary accessible structures.

The Co-op association pays for the Co-op coordinator's (property manager) time, water used, seed, and additional materials, such as fertilizer.