Project SOIL has grown from collaborative research relationships developed between critical individuals at My Sustainable Canada, the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care and Nourishing Communities.

Led by postdoctoral researcher Phil Mount and Assistant Professor Irena Knezevic, this three-year project is looking at the viability of on-site  food production at public institutions, through collaborative arrangements with local food producers.


The project builds on emerging production models that can flexibly adapt to  institutional resources (including SPIn or Small Plot Intensive farming), as well as land tenure models that could contribute to community food production, health and well-being –  such as Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital’s donation of land to a social-purpose business (GreenWerks) that grows food for the hospital, local markets, and food bank.

The feasibility of alternatives will be explored by:

  1. surveying public institutions to identify capacity to support food production;
  2. interviewing institutional key informants to understand opportunities/constraints; and
  3. performing in-depth site analyses to explore food production models and cooperative opportunities with existing local food networks.

Case studies and cost/revenue flows helped to guide five innovative and groundbreaking food production pilot projects. These pilots tested the therapeutic benefits at gardens on the properties of Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital -which focuses on post acute stroke rehabilitation- and Homewood Health Centre, a leading addiction and mental health treatment facility. The multiple values of the food and synergistic benefits produced from the soil on these properties was explored at these health facilities, and also at the Food School Farm, Centre Wellington District High School’s radical participatory agroecological education program that looks to produce “critical and confident food growers and consumers”.

See all of the pilot project case studies here.

Project SOIL is funded by the New Directions Research Program of the Ontario Ministries of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs.