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Durham College launches sustainable urban agriculture centre

September 28, 2021  By Fruit and Vegetable

On Sept. 28, Durham College announced the official launch of the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture. Established thanks to a $5-million donation from The Barrett Family Foundation, the centre aims to become “an internationally recognized hub of excellence in urban agriculture practices, research, education and training,” according to a press release.

“The Barrett Centre is an amplification and expansion of all the expertise we’ve gained bringing the field-to-fork philosophy to life each and every day in our food, farming and horticulture programs,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “The knowledge and experience gained from turning unused fields into a vibrant crop-bearing farm serves as a solid foundation for what the Barrett Centre will accomplish, and we are looking forward to continuing to lead the way together, with the Barrett Foundation, our students, faculty and the community.”

At the heart of the work will be the building of a dynamic new urban farm that will be developed as a community-inspired living lab in the coming years. In addition, the centre will:

  • Enhance the existing urban farm at Durham College’s Whitby campus.
  • Become a source for information, support and coaching for traditionally underserved and marginalized communities when it comes to urban agriculture initiatives, including food security.
  • Create a comprehensive and connected array of educational programs and materials in urban agriculture to meet growing employment needs.
  • Create dozens of new opportunities in the years ahead for students to gain experience working on urban farms and in roles supporting the operations.
  • Become home to a team of highly respected experts working to establish it as an internationally recognized hub of knowledge around sustainable urban agriculture.

“Our goal as a foundation is to partner with organizations that positively impact communities, locally and globally,” said Bob Barrett, of the Barrett Family Foundation. “With its focus on sustainable agriculture, coupled with student learning and research, the Barrett Centre stands to do just that. We are really looking forward to seeing all the great work that will be achieved.”

For more information about the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture, visit

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