FEED TORONTO: GROWING THE HYDROFIELDS
2012 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, National Urban Design Award of Excellence
2011 Toronto Urban Design Award of Excellence
Finalist, ONE PRIZE Mowing to Growing Competition, 2010

Drew Adams, Fadi Masoud, Karen May, Denise Pinto and Jameson Skaife

The project, Feed Toronto: Growing the Hydro Fields, counters that rather than pursuing the transformation of a privatized lawn landscape to create productive greenspace, urban agriculture should be pursued first on public lands for the greatest and most immediate impact. It is posited that growing the sprawling network of hydro corridors, a staple of the North American urban landscape, would both circumvent the need for the buy-in of countless individual land owners while embracing the site's significance as a place of energy production—now through food.

Within a 125 mile radius of downtown Toronto, there is approximately 8,145 acres of space to grow within Greater Toronto’s Hydro Corridors. This is the equivalent of 51 full 160 acre, commercial farms, or 294 28 acre urban farms, or 58,500 0.14 acre community gardens. Such vast amounts of arable land suggest not only considerable feasibility but significant potential for a reduction in imported produce.

Answering the question of ‘how,’ this seemingly ambitious proposition can be achieved through three simple acts. Firstly, establish FeedToronto as the City’s newest corporation, akin to BuildToronto and InvestToronto, with the mandate of pursuing local food production at a commercial scale and promoting community scale gardening throughout the city. Second, a new zoning designation is required to permit, compatible, large scale agriculture within city limits which is precluded under the current zoning regime. Lastly, FeedToronto must inherit the hydro corridor land rights, currently held by Hydro One, who will, in exchange, retain air rights enabling the two public corporations to symbiotically pursue their distinct mandates.

The FeedToronto proposition is further based on production corridor typologies capable of responding to and reflecting different patterns of adjacent land uses from residential areas to schools and colleges, industrial warehouse zones, and intersections with transportation infrastructure.

Ultimately, Growing the Hydro Fields re-imagines of over 8,000 acres of mowed lawn as an abundant urban green generating affordable, nutritious, local food. The hope too was, in part, that such a widespread transformation in the public realm could in time shift perception in regard to the utilization of one’s own piece of land and affect the privatized lawn landscape initially eschewed by the project.