Report Summary  | Project Overview, Media and Reports |
Visioning Sessions | ‘Making the Case’ and Reflections

Project Overview

Project SOIL (Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands) is a feasibility study that explores the potential of on-site food production for public institutions through arrangements with local producers, particularly where access to farmland is limited and expensive. Funded by the New Directions Research Program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 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. Co-benefits identified include community engagement on local food production, health and wellbeing, job creation and training opportunities, patient rehabilitation programs and generation of funds needed to foster these types of programs.

Previously reported SOIL initiatives include the following:


A Brief History of Public Institutional Food Production

This report provided an overview of the history of institutional food production, as well as five cases showing historical examples from across the province. Available at


GIS Study


In 2014 we undertook a GIS study of 659 Ontario health care facilities, and found that 217 had more than one acre of land, 134 had more than two acres, 54 had more than 5 acres, and 28 had more than 10 acres of arable land on site at their institution.

Case Studies

Four in-depth case studies of existing models with significant annual production are available on our website ( and are as follows:

  • FoodShare’s School Grown Market Gardens;
  • The Ottawa Food Bank’s Community Harvest food growing project;
  • McGill Feeding McGill; and
  • The Kingston Prison Farms.


Surveys and Interviews

Survey and interviews were undertaken with institutional administrators and staff at educational and health care facilities across the province. This process was intended to gauge their interest in on-site food production and capture a broad set of responses to the idea, as well as identify the barriers and limitations within respondents’ institutions. Survey results are available on our website at


Pilot Projects

Five pilot projects were completed in 2014-2015 with a diverse set of partners at health care, social service and educational institutions across the province, and documented the results through Participatory Action Research. Pilot reports are available at ( Research projects were undertaken at:

  • Homewood Health Centre (Victorian Kitchen Garden project);
  • Centre Wellington District High School (Food School Farm);
  • Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital (GreenWerks Garden);
  • KW Habilitation (Our Farm); and
  • Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital, (expansion of the Therapeutic Garden Project).


Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT), Media and Reports

Through the course of this project there were many opportunities to share our progress, observations and discoveries. The following is a summary of knowledge translation and transfer activities connected to the project:


Knezevic, I., Mount, P. & Clement, C. (2016). Shared opportunities on institutional land: Improving health care environments through on-site food production. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, published online April 5, DOI: 10.1177/1937586716638101.

Dwyer, Kyle, Mcgivern, Jillian, Flores Pajot, Marie-Claire, Lawlor, Jodie, and Pagotto, Emma. (2016). Harvesting Health: Therapeutic outcomes of gardens at health care institutions. M.Sc. Thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, Health: Science, Technology and Policy, Carleton University. Available at:


Mount, P. and Knezevic, I. (2015). Ontario public institutions and on-site food production: Current capacities and constraints. Guelph, Ontario: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Available at (29 pages).


Cohen, Adeline. (June 2, 2016). Let’s Grow. Talkin’ Trash with UHN. Available at

Mount, P. and I. Knezevic. (2016). Project SOIL looks at viability of on-site food production in public institutions. In Exploring the Healing Powers of Food Gardens. Nutrition Resource Centre blog, February 2016, with re-print in Local Food on the Public Plate, Farm to Cafeteria Canada, March 2016.

Mount, P. and Knezevic, I. (2014). Project SOIL: Want More Local Food In Your Hospital? Try Growing It!, May 24 issue.



Canadian Healthcare Facilities (Summer 2016). Digging Deep: Project SOIL unearths the fruits of on-site food production. Available at:

Our Ottawa (April 23, 2016). Harvesting Health: Investigating the Therapeutic Effects of Gardens. CBC TV.


Ottawa Morning (April 19, 2016). More hospital gardens needed to help patients, Carleton researchers say. CBC Radio. Available at

Rouchotas, P. (Dec 2014) “COVER STORY: Project Soil – Food Production at Health Care Institutions”. Integrated Healthcare Practitioners, 38-43. Available at:


Lake Superior News (August 27, 2014). Green Werks Garden at St. Joseph’s Care Group. Available at

Net News Ledger (August 26, 2014). Green Thumbs Enhance Food Services. Available at

The Record (August 14, 2014). The grow inclusion at urban microfarm.Available at

Glengarry News (August 13, 2014). SOIL initiative at hospital keeps growing. Available at

Guelph Mercury (July 16, 2014). Homewood garden part of food production project. Available at

CJOY 1460 Guelph News: Project SOIL at Homewood Health Care, Guelph, July 15-16, 2014.

The Record (June 17, 2014). Good Things Grow on Micro-farm. Available at

The Record (June 11, 2014). Micro farm will provide food, activities for KW Habilitation residents. Available at


Exchange Magazine (June 10, 2014). KW Habilitation Joins Local Food Movement. Available at 2014/week23/Tuesday/14061007.htm



Irena Knezevic and Phil Mount. Invited panelists: Food Policy and Health: Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands. Visions 2042 conference. Carleton University, Ottawa, ON. March 2-4, 2017.

UHN OpenLab and Healing Garden. Invited display, Healthy Green Promenade, Health Achieve 2016. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, November 7-9, 2016.


Irena Knezevic. Invited panelist: The Canadian diet and the future of health promotion. Health Promotion Ontario Conference. Ottawa, ON. October 18, 2016.

Irena Knezevic and Chantal Clement. Invited panelists: From Bureaucracy to Engagement: Research Ethics Approvals and Community-based Research, Ottawa, ON, Canadian Association of Research Administrators, Ontario. Ottawa, ON. December 2015.

Phil Mount. Participant on panel From Systems to Strategy in Institutional Procurement: Reflecting on Past Successes and Designing for the Future. Bring Food Home 2015, Sudbury ON. November 2015.

Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands: Challenges and opportunities of on-site food production, a Project SOIL webinar, October 22, 2015.

Irena Knezevic. Invited speaker: Student engagement in food and health research. Community Engaged Pedagogy roundtable at Carleton University, Ottawa, ON. June 26, 2015.

Phil Mount, Louise Quenneville and Irena Knezevic. Feeding Policy through Shared Opportunities on Institutional Land: Project SOIL, on-site food production, and policy-relevant research. C2U Expo 2015. Carleton University, Ottawa, ON. May 28, 2015.

Phil Mount and Irena Knezevic. Invited presentation: Project SOIL (Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands). Earth Week 2015 to the Environmentally Sustainable Office Practice (ESOP) Group, Ontario Public Service (OPS). April 23, 2015.