Urban Farm: Getting “Back To Our Roots”

A team of oxen plowed the market garden site during the urban farm's official launch in May.
A team of oxen plowed the market garden site during the urban farm's official launch in May.
A team of oxen plowed the market garden site during the urban farm’s official launch in May.


An exciting new project is taking root on the grounds of the Nova Scotia Hospital. It’s called Back to Our Roots Urban Farm and it’s a combination of community gardens, market garden and a mental health initiative.

Learn more about what the Back to Our Roots will bring to the community from program coordinator Hillary Lindsay.

Tell us a little about the project and how it will unfold.

HL: Right now we’re building the beds for the community plots. Groups, families or individuals can rent a plot for $30 for the season and grow vegetables for themselves. The market garden area has also been plowed and I am now trying to locate a rototiller that I can use to prepare the soil for planting. I will be growing salad greens, herbs and vegetables in the market garden to sell on site. We also hope to grow flowers and have common plots. It is our first year, so it’s hard to tell how each aspect will unfold, but there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm on site about the project.

What groups are involved?

HL: The Mental Health Foundation of NS is a partner on the project. The farm is on the site of the Nova Scotia Hospital, which serves mental health and addictions patients. Common Roots Urban Farm in Halifax is a sister farm and we have been modeling BTOR off their successes.

Will patients at the NS have the opportunity to work in the garden?

HL: Yes, it’s part of the plan that there will be programming for patients as part of the farm. What this will look like is still taking shape. For now, if patients (or anyone else) are able, they’re welcome to help any time they like!

What are the benefits of having this type of garden in our communities?

HL: There are so many benefits. First of all, we’re growing fresh, healthy food right here in the city for ourselves, our families, and our community. People are outside, working together, getting exercise, getting fresh air, meeting their neighbours. My experience with growing food is that it is very grounding and very satisfying work. You start with soil and seeds and create something that is nourishing and beautiful. This is good for the soul, but also so important for the environment and society. Currently, Nova Scotia is very food insecure. A lot of people don’t have access to healthy food and much of what we eat comes from the other side of the world. It’s important that everyone has the opportunity to eat well and that we grow food where we are. Why import food when we can grow it right here?

How can people become involved?

HL: They can contact me. We’re looking for volunteers! Hillary.lindsay@nshealth.ca.