Rooftop garden in full bloom

An Oak Bay's Chris Hildreth is using rooftop space to grow a food garden for local restaurants

Chris Hildreth picks arugula from one of the region’s first urban commercial rooftop gardens.

Chris Hildreth picks arugula from one of the region’s first urban commercial rooftop gardens.

By Kenda Wong

An Oak Bay resident is hoping to increase the amount of locally produced food through a new pilot project that’s proving the sky is the limit.

Chris Hildreth, a recent University of Victoria grad who studied environmental studies and sociology, recently launched Topsoil, one of the first urban commercial rooftop gardens on 1001 Blanshard St.

On the roof he grows fresh produce that is then delivered to Fiamo Italian Kitchen to use in their dishes.

“I wanted to provide restaurants with the highest quality of fresh local produce as possible, but in a quantity that they can really be using on a consistent basis, not just a couple of sprigs of basil on their salad,” said Hildreth, who came up with the idea in a food and society class.

“I want everything from that salad to be from the rooftop.”

In the 500-square-foot garden, 20 beds are growing kale, arugula, ruby streaks, mixed lettuce, two different types of tomatoes, red and green peppers, jalapeno and cayenne peppers, rosemary and thyme as well as edible flowers in large quantities.

The soil, made from peat moss and compost, is watered with a timed irrigation system that goes off every morning for about five minutes.

Once a week, Hildreth harvests roughly 20 pounds of leafy greens and other produce, boxes and delivers it to Fiamo’s kitchen, just a seven-minute walk away from the garden.

James Avila, chef at Fiamo, said he uses the arugula on pizzas, flowers and basil as garnishes, lettuces in salads and grills the kale.

“You can taste the difference right away. You can taste arugula grown outside Victoria and the arugula that we have from him and it’s 100 per cent better quality, taste and experience out of his product,” said Avila.

For Hildreth, it’s now about expanding the project — something that has already garnered a lot of interest.

“I’ve Google Earthed the entire city and there’s acres and acres of rooftop space. No pun intended, but the sky is the limit for doing this,” he said, adding that he has rooftops in mind to build more gardens and has more than a dozen local restaurants interested in getting on board.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said they are aware of hateful graffiti spray-painted in an area of the forest surrounding the campus. The graffiti in question includes anti-Semitic content and a racial slur towards Black people. (Facebook/Royal Roads University)
Anti-Semitic, hateful graffiti spotted in forest near Royal Roads University

Royal Roads working with West Shore RCMP to remove graffiti “as soon as possible”

A cougar was spotted at Royal Roads University on Sunday, Jan. 24. The sighting was reported on the western edge of the campus. (File photo)
Cougar spotted at Royal Roads University Sunday afternoon

Animal reported on western side of campus near Colwood Fire Department

Saanich-based St. Luke’s Players community theatre company has been making the most of their opportunities to keep busy during the pandemic, including staging a Christmastime panto of Alice in Wonderland on Zoom. (Courtesy St. Luke’s Players)
Saanich’s St. Luke’s Players: Bringing the stage to the people

Community theatre company holding online auditions Jan. 23-24 for March production

Frank Bourree was awarded the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s first Governors’ Award of Distinction for his leadership in the business community. (Courtesy of Frank Bourree)
Frank Bourree receives award of distinction from Victoria chamber

Award recognizes positive role model in business community

The Habitat for Humanity Meaning of Home contest is open to students in Grades 5 to 6. (Screenshot/Habitat for Humanity video)
Habitat for Humanity launches national writing contest

Entries accepted from students in Grades 4 to 6 until Feb. 19

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read