Gardener On The Roof

By William Gouin; International Business & Accounting ’18

The Santropol Roulant has a charming little storefront at 111 rue Roy est Montreal, complete with a rooftop garden. As a student in Shona Watt’s Urban Agriculture class (ENP 300), I was lucky enough to have a tour of Santropol Roulant, which is a non-profit organization. Before jumping into what happened, it’s important to give a little background about Santropol. Santropol Roulant is a meal on wheels program based in Montreal, Canada, looking to build a connection between generations of Montrealers. They do this through encouraging twenty-and-thirtysomethings to deliver meals to those suffering from food insecurity, creating a connection between generations, and creating eco-friendly meals. Both of which the tour guide discussed at length.

The tour began in front of the store, on a platform that Santropol Roulant built for growing plants. So far, there are only a few on the deck, but they look to be healthy specimens. A brick facade has Santropol Roulant hovering over the large wood door in platinum. Below the store’s name was a set of gray concrete steps that lead to the entrance to the building, typical of the neighbourhood’s architecture.

The tour continued inside of the building on the first floor which looked more like a cross between a living room, a call center, and a wall of insulated backpacks. As the tour guide explained, the backpacks were used for deliveries to their various clients. However, unlike Domino’s, most deliveries were made my foot or bike as part of Santropol Roulant’s pledge to be as green as possible.

Following an explanation of how volunteering works at Santropol Roulant, the next stop was the kitchen in the back where the tour guide told the group that they grow and use these ingredients then sell or store any extra supply. It’s a great way to support the community and create a more green environment. However, Santropol Roulant still hasn’t gone totally organic yet, as the tour guide explained. There are various fish and other meat products that they can’t produce themselves yet, but they are making moves to ensure that as much of the food is organic as possible.

Vegetable and fruit, on the other hand, they do grow themselves. To supply the farms with a small portion of what it needs for fertilizer, there’s a worm farm in the basement of Santropol Roulant. That was the next step of the tour – a small rectangle worm container where they put compost.

After climbing a few flights of steps from the basement, you’ll arrive at a rooftop looking into a small greenhouse resting on oak boards that decorates the roof top. Beyond the greenery, there’s an oak deck decorated with myriad edible plants. And to the left, a staircase leads to a rooftop sprouting rows of plant matter between rows of brown dirt, and nestled on the far side of the roof is a bee hive.

It’s quite the place if you ever want a tour. It even has its own bike repair station one the first floor, which is a place that is designed to teach people how to fix their own bikes and give them a space to work on them. If you ever have time, it a good place to visit, volunteer, or attend one of their events!