Four geodesic domes were built last fall in the valley at UTSC near the tennis courts. They are greenhouses that will house gardening and vertical farming infrastructure to support food sovereignty for Indigenous communities

By Kathryn Stocks

During a walk in Highland Creek Valley north of Old Kingston Road last fall, my husband and I noticed four eye-catching domes being built on University of Toronto Scarborough land. That sparked an interest in knowing more about these new structures and how they would be used.

I found out from a UTSC Facebook post that these 26 ft. geodesic domes are greenhouses that will house gardening and vertical farming infrastructure. Called the Indigenous Entrepreneurship and Garden Project, it is a partnership that brings together The Indigenous Network, Redbird Circle Inc., ICUBE, and the UTSC Department of Management. It’s funded by Economic Social Development Canada through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund.

These facilities will be used to support an entrepreneurship training program, to be facilitated by Redbird Circle, built around the Anishinaabe medicine wheel. The workshop series focuses on venture and community project creation supporting food sovereignty and security for Indigenous communities.

The project is described as “light on the land,” meaning that it’s temporary and reversible and will be there for between one and five years, although an extension of that time frame could be possible. The site has been carefully chosen to minimize disruption to the sensitive environment, and it respects the existing locations of memorials in that area to James Burke, Laddie Dennis and Lucy Swanton Doyle.

The domes are not connected to any permanent infrastructure and are self-sufficient through solar, geothermal and water climate controls that extend the growing season for most of the year. Gravel pathways surround each dome to connect them with the roadway and make them accessible.

So if you’re looking for a destination the next time you go for a long walk, check them out. They are located beyond Colonel Danforth Park’s Dogs Off-Leash Area before you get to the tennis courts. If that’s a bit too far for you to go or the weather’s too cold, the domes are a short walk from the parking lot in the valley west of Military Trail on Old Kingston Rd. Or you can just drive up the road into UTSC and see them without getting out of your car. 

In the spring, we hope to do a follow-up story on what’s growing in these lovely greenhouse domes.