The Bowery Project Makes Use of Vacant City Lots With Pop-Up Farms

A Toronto-based nonprofit is transforming vacant lots into temporary food sources. While developers wait for permits and raise construction funds, The Bowery Project sweeps in with modular pop-up farms to make the most of these urban spaces.
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A Toronto-based nonprofit is transforming vacant lots into temporary food sources. While developers wait for permits and raise construction funds, The Bowery Project sweeps in with modular pop-up farms to make the most of these urban spaces.
bowery project pop up farms

A closeup of the Bowery Project's pop-up farms. (Image Credit: The Bowery Project website)

Vacant city lots are a bit of a waste of space, so The Bowery Project is putting them to good use. The Toronto-based nonprofit will be turning these lots into pop-up farms, which they will easily and quickly vacate once developers are ready to build. Their milk-crate modular system makes the process mobile, simple and fast.

"We both live in downtown Toronto and kept seeing vacant lots -- some places that have been empty for five years," said Rachel Kimel, who began the project with her co-founder Deena DelZotto, to Fast Company. "The idea started organically: What would it take to grow food there?"

The Bowery Project will be working alongside the city of Toronto and developers to lease empty lots on a temporary basis. "If developers buy a piece of land, usually there's a long period of time where the land sits vacant until they've gotten permits, finished their designs, and raised the money they need," Kimel said. "We're hoping to be kind of a transformative application for an interim project for these lots."

The food grown through The Bowery Project will be split up between local hunger organizations and volunteers to help to grow the farm. The last third will be sold to local chefs as a means of supporting the organization's projects.