Huerta del Valle urban farm inspires sustainable community building

Ontaria’s first community garden is a hub of organic farming, community support and education.

Huerta del Valle community garden is Ontario’s first urban farm. Its four acres provide 62 locals with their own six-by-three metre farming plot for a small annual fee. The community farmers are able to feed their families with their organic harvests while the garden organisers sell their vegetables, herbs and fruits to nearby residents, restaurants and farmers markets, in order to maintain the land and facilities.

To improve daily agricultural operations and address additional needs of the farming community, three Cal Poly Pomona architecture students have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the building of an education and community centre in the garden.

To help expand the garden’s mission and strengthen the community, the students have spent a year coming up with a vision for the centre. Their design includes four structures, an amphitheatre, a library, a shaded gazebo and a kitchen clubhouse. A sustainable building strategy has been devised for each structure.

The amphitheatre, comprised of an excavated stadium with a centre stage, will be used for weekly gatherings and cultural events. The remaining sand, dug out for the theatre, will be used to make the library by employing a ground-earth construction method. The library will provide a space to teach children reading, writing, arts and sustainability through a local literacy programme.

The shade structure will serve as an area to organise daily garden activities and its solar panelled roof will provide power for the whole centre. Constructed out of ventilated shipping containers, the kitchen clubhouse is divided into a community kitchen and a playhouse for kids. Heavy canvas curtains are installed to provide protection against natural elements and unused steel from the containers are repurposed as shading canopies that can close during rougher weather.

The students plan to release the architectural plans to the public so that anyone can create the same community garden in any city.