Visit the Covenant House Toronto website.
August 28, 2019 Nourishing food, nurturing futures by Covenant House Toronto staff; November 1, 2009 CitiesAlive! 2009 Day Tour & Evening Fiesta by Linda Velazquez where she visits the Covenant House on Greenroofs.com; January 24, 2008 Steel answers needs of green roof project at Toronto youth shelter by staff in Daily Commercial News.
As Canada’s largest youth shelter, Covenant House Toronto opens doors of opportunity and hope to homeless youth. More than just a place to stay, Covenant House provides 24/7 crisis care and has the widest range of services under one roof, including education, counseling, healthcare and employment assistance. Covenant House has helped thousands of young people move from a life on the streets to a life with a future.
“Our garden will provide us with more innovative ways to educate, mentor, heal and inspire our youth,” says Executive Director Ruth deCosta. “It’s a classroom and a place to discover possible career interests. It’s also a setting where youth can connect with nature and see the rewards of their work, especially those who are coping with mental health issues. We are also proud to do our part in greening the urban environment and, perhaps most importantly, teaching our youth environmental consciousness by our example.”
The teachers use the garden for a variety of studies including biology, art and creative writing to enable youth to earn high school credits. Through a partnership with Ryerson University, additional study opportunities expose youth to possible careers in horticulture, landscaping and the green roof industry. Graduate students work with youth on earth science projects such as environmental studies, ecology and green roof ecosystems. For young people coping with mental health problems, working in the garden is therapeutic and can help them improve their skills and confidence so they can go back to school or work.
In the summer the rooftop garden is lush with flowers, herbs and vegetables.
“Volunteers and Covenant House youth plant the garden in the spring. In the summer, participants in Cooking for Life, our culinary arts program, harvest the rewards. The youth use fresh herbs to season their favourite dishes and make savoury sauces. The youth also learn how to grow their own gardens so they can live more sustainably as they transition to independence.
This blend of practical and creative learning holds all the ingredients for success.” ~ Covenant House Toronto
Approximately 5,000 perennials, raised vegetable planters, a wetland area, a fish pond with a fountain, and an overhead trellis are just some of the features of this outdoor classroom. The project was designed to comply with the City of Toronto’s Green Roof Incentive Pilot program. In addition, the following was achieved:
– All plastic and/or composite components are from 100% post consumer recycled materials,
– Growing media developed from recycled products with a minimum of 90% obtained from sustainable sources,
– All materials, where possible, were locally sourced from within a 500 km radius of the project site,
– The soil was designed to NOT use mined products and the associated energy (agricultural peat moss, expanded shale, pumice, lava rock and other similar sourced materials),
– the natural sounds of running water from the fountain provides a very tranquil setting where one can reassess their direction within the complexity of everyday life.
“We are most grateful that our supporters recognized that the roof garden represents a unique approach to helping our youth and contributing to environmental protection,” Ms. daCosta said. This project brought the community together through a special fundraising campaign that raised $250,000, so this vegetated roof space could become a reality for the Covenant House.
Irrigation is provided to the 6″ (15 cm) deep growing medium, which is an extensive blended media from Bioroof Systems. Plant material includes perennial flowers, sedums, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. Positive drainage to prevent stagnant water was achieved for improved plant health. Any water that is not retained by the growing media or retention layer moves toward the roof drain openings. The extensive system focuses on rain water retention and the system was designed to retain a 25-year storm event before any runoff occurs. The combination of the media and retention layer can retain up to 1.1 gallons per square foot, which exceeds a 25-year storm event for the City of Toronto. This value is one of the highest retention values in the industry.
Tremco’s Vegetated TRA multi-layer Roof Membrane was used on the Covenant House Toronto. The inverted roof assembly was installed with R-20 insulation on top of the membrane to protect from thermal stress. The waterproofing membrane utilizes Tremco’s high quality reinforced, modified asphalt fluid base with a fully adhered TRA cap membrane that acts as its own root barrier. The integration of redundant layering and high elastomeric materials with the rubberized root barrier cap sheet provides a system that will last 35+ years.
Since 1982, Covenant House has supported more than 100,000 young people, and the Covenant House Toronto rooftop garden project was completed in August of 2008.