Arts and Culture Community Student Life

Plants, paint and friendly faces at Concordia’s greenhouse

FASA and CUPA teamed up to host an art therapy event for students to unwind during midterms season.

There were almost as many people as there were plants in Concordia’s greenhouse on Thursday, Oct. 19. Starting at around 5:30 p.m. in the evening, the event saw students  coming to the 13th floor of the Hall building to paint, eat snacks, socialize, and relax—a much needed break during midterm season. There were many more participants than expected, and the organizers had to run to the dollar store after half an hour to buy more art supplies!

Among the greenery, students were sitting alone or in groups, painting quietly or chatting with friends, listening to music or to their own thoughts. Though the place was packed, the ambiance was relaxing and voices were quiet. The lights from the city at night were shining through the greenhouse’s glass—the location was ideal to inspire students and help them unwind. 

The event was  a collaboration between Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA), Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association (CUPA), and inARTE Journal. The inARTE Journal,  an initiative of Concordia’s arts education students, had organized a student mixer and art-making event in the greenhouse in November 2022. This year, Adey Singer, FASA’s finance coordinator, brought a reiteration of it, with the goal of  bringing  together fine arts and psychology students. 

Singer was inspired by her friends in the psychology program who love arts, but don’t have many opportunities to participate in artistic events on campus. She wanted this to be an occasion for students of all departments to express their creativity and meet people from other programs. “It’s a social event where people can gather, meet each other, make social connections, make art together, and relax,” explained Singer. 

Emily Chodat, president of CUPA, also attended and helped organize the event. “We believe that psychology and creative arts are super interconnected,” she said. “Being able to express artistically how you’re feeling can be really relieving on your mind.” 

Aimée Lebeau from inARTE Journal was there as well to “offer guidance and mediate the event,” as was stated on FASA’s Instagram page. 

Singer, Chodat and Lebeau were pleased with the turnout and called the evening “a great success.” The event might be a tradition in the making—considering how popular this year’s edition was, it is possible that those who  didn’t get the chance to drop by on Oct. 19 will get another chance next year.


Canopy: A community project foreseeing a greener society

Concordia’s Greenhouse hosts a project inspired by a utopian concept, to be presented April 22

After making your way up to the 13th floor of the Hall Building and passing through an inviting doorway, you might suddenly notice the smell of fresh soil as hoses on a “mist” setting crowd your sinuses. An overwhelming presence of life makes itself known; a sort of hidden life, perhaps. 

You’ve stumbled upon Canopy; The Hidden Life of Humans: a project that unites science with arts and crafts in pursuit of the idea that we, as humans, may one day be able to move civilization above the ground into canopies. 

Maddy Schmidt, who recently graduated from Concordia with a major in design, conceived the idea in August of last year while walking through Montreal and spotting a planter erupting with vines and other vegetation. 

At the same time, Schmidt was listening to a Radiolab podcast about copepods: small crustaceans found in various aquatic habitats, and even in above-ground ecosystems among trees. In their episode Forests On Forests, Radiolab states that about 50 per cent of all terrestrial beings live in trees.

“I saw this crazy web of vines, and they were all linking onto each other. It looks like they’re holding each other. I saw them linking onto the fence,” said Schmidt. “I saw them linking onto other plants. And I was like, there’s this completely interconnected world, it was so mind-blowing.”

The Canopy co-creator immediately called her longtime friend, first-year photography major Liliane Junod, out of inspiration. The “partners in vine” brainstormed ideas for a project honouring the concept of humans living from the top down, rather than the ground up.

The idea of the project is to hang all sorts of house plants, such as pothos, also known as devil’s ivy, around the Hall Building’s greenhouse. They would be linked together with grapevines and hung on trellising made from recycled materials. 

The Canopy team is gathering material from Facebook groups that are designated for sharing recycled materials, such as Creative Re-use: Ø Waste, or CRØW.

Canopy will be hosting a workshop in collaboration with Concordia Precious Plastic Project (CP3) and Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR), on April 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.. Anyone is welcome to attend. 

CP3’s portion of the workshop will entail drawing lantern designs and learning how to transform them into illustrator outlines, which will then be cut into recycled plastic sheets with laser-cutters. 

The second part of the workshop, led by CUCCR, will focus on making arts and crafts with recycled materials, and techniques such as sculpting, drawing, painting, and printing will be taught by Concordia’s fine arts students.

“The end result of this project is going to be an exhibition where we create this magical canopy space in the greenhouse, and we’re going to include our artists from the community,” said Junod. “We’re excited to have not just people in fine arts, for whom art is their entire life, but also anybody. So we want to put forth the message that everyone can create for this.”

One of the Canopy team’s keywords is optimism, and their goal is to keep the community lighthearted when thinking about the environment.

“We really want this project to be as uplifting as possible,” says Schmidt. “Of course, we’re addressing tons of systemic issues, methodologies, but we’re exposing them through something much more artistic and colourful.”

The Canopy team is calling on any students from the Fine Arts, Arts and Science and JMSB faculties who are willing to lend a hand between now and the day of exhibit on April 22. 

You can visit the project’s Linktree @canopythloh for more information.

Community Student Life

Concordia’s Greenhouse

The 13th floor: a little hidden gem of paradise.

Did you know that Concordia University has its very own greenhouse? It was opened in 1966 when the Hall Building was built.

This hidden gem located at the downtown campus is a little hard to find at first. But once you start seeing the painted plants on the walls of the stairwell leading you up to the 13th floor, you’ll know you are going in the right direction


Dominique Smith, the outreach and communications coordinator of the Greenhouse, gave The Concordian all the ins and outs of this space.

“I became the outreach coordinator a couple of months ago. The Greenhouse is a collection of different working groups that make up the community. Essentially, we are the people who create the agriculture community through workshops, volunteer hours and the staff that upkeeps the space,” Smith said.

He explained that his job at the Greenhouse is to work with all the different working groups that occupy the space, those groups being HydroFlora, Co-Op CultivAction, City Farm School and more.

Smith is also working on creating a vlog to explain the projects of those working groups, almost like a farmer’s almanac. 

Smith emphasized that The Greenhouse as a whole is a collective space. 

The staff at the Greenhouse, in partnership with HydroFlora, have brought back the Greenhouse to its pre-pandemic state. 

“We came together to revamp the atrium spaces. So you have the front atrium which has always been available for students to rent or study in. Now we have a pond room that students are able to rent or study in as well,” Smith explained. 

Smith explained how the layout of the Greenhouse is organized.

If one walks to the back of the Greenhouse, they can see all the sections where the different working groups such as CultivAction grow food for the HIVE cafes at Concordia University. 

HydroFlora is the working group that helps maintain the house plants in the Greenhouse. They also give classes and provide students with job opportunities.

Not only is the Greenhouse a collective space for the working groups, it’s also a space to give workshops and classes.

“All these different working groups try to give students here at Concordia an entrance into the agricultural world. Sometimes it’s hard being high up and technically kind of far away from the ground floor,” Smith said. 

Although the Greenhouse is a great initiative at Concordia, Smith stressed that the space is very finite and can’t accommodate a lot of people at once. 

So if you are at the downtown campus, feel free to give the Greenhouse a visit but make sure not to take too many friends with you or else you won’t be able to get a seat.

Photographs by Thomas Vaillancourt/THE CONCORDIAN


Montreal has the world’s biggest rooftop greenhouse

Lufa Farms opens its fourth rooftop greenhouse in Montreal, which can feed over 10,000 families

Lufa Farms opened its fourth rooftop greenhouse, the biggest in the world, on Aug. 26. The greenhouse is 163,000 square feet — almost three football fields — and is located in the borough of Saint-Laurent.

According to Lufa Farms, the greenhouse is capable of growing enough food for 10,000 families, meaning Lufa Farms can double its production, going from feeding one per cent of Montreal to two per cent.

Adiran Munoz, who is doing a major in Biology and a minor in Sustainability Studies, sees this increase in sustainable food practices as exciting, and he hopes this means that more businesses will invest in this type of agriculture.

Lufa Farms opened its first rooftop greenhouse in 2011 in the borough of Ahuntsic, and at the time it was the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse. Since then, according to Euronews, organizations began building their own rooftop greenhouses — such as American Gotham Greens, who built eight greenhouses in New York City, Chicago, and Denver.

“It’s kinda crazy, I’m actually subscribed to the Lufa Farms food baskets, but I had no idea that they were such a game changer in the rooftop greenhouse world,” said Munoz. He explained that Lufa delivers weekly boxes of local food, and that customers call themselves ‘Lufavores.’

At Lufa Farms, over 100 varieties of vegetables and herbs are grown year-round in hydroponic containers lined with coconut coir and given liquid nutrients to promote growth.

Bumblebees pollinate the plants, while wasps and ladybugs keep aphids in check — without the need for pesticides.

“Growing in a greenhouse means you can use good bugs to fight bad bugs, instead of relying on pesticides,” said Munoz. He explained that this process is called integrated pest management, and that it can’t be used outside a greenhouse because the bugs would simply fly away. “Bugs are an excellent, and overlooked, tool in keeping crops healthy.”

Munoz explained that greenhouses have less food waste than in a normal field setting. This is because the crops aren’t affected by wind, rain, or animals.

“These plants are grown in an environment that is designed to be perfect for their development,” said Munoz.

“It’s an unbelievable step forward for hyper-local, sustainable urban farming,” said Mohamed Hage, co-founder and CEO of Lufa Farms, in a press release regarding the new greenhouse.

“With each greenhouse, we hold ourselves to an ever-higher standard for sustainable design,” said Lauren Rathmell, Co-Founder and Greenhouse Director.

“Our new farm will be the most energy efficient to-date and [will] integrate all our learnings from the last 10 years to responsibly grow more vegetables for Lufavores year-round,” Rathmell said.

“This greenhouse will facilitate residents’ access to local, sustainably-grown products and further promote healthy habits,” said Alan DeSousa, Saint-Laurent’s Mayor. He explains that the greenhouse will combat ‘heat islands,’ which is an area in a city that is significantly hotter than surrounding rural areas due to human activity.

“Honestly I just feel happy that I can say I live in the city with the world’s biggest [rooftop] greenhouse,” said Munoz. He explained that he hopes this inspires people to buy sustainable produce, not just from Lufa Farms, but from local farms and businesses, too.

“I find so many people are talking about climate change, and how they can be sustainable, and the best way you can do that is to buy locally,” said Munoz. “If you buy locally then bigger companies will get the message, and not ship things from across the world.”


Photo courtesy of Lufa Farms

Student Life

Go green in urban areas year-round

Find the resources to start a small garden and optimize your growing space

Gardening is tough manual work, especially when you are living within the cityscape of Montreal. Surrounded by concrete and limited green-space, attempting to plant vegetables can be restraining. Last Wednesday, the Concordia Greenhouse offered a compromise for those who live the city life but still crave natural produce.

On Jan. 30, the “Grow Your Own Food Year-Round” event, led by Urban Homestead Montreal, gave a presentation about public resources and areas to harvest edible greens. Sheena Swirlz, coordinator for the organization, taught various tips and tricks to approach interior and exterior food cultivation.

On the 13th floor of the Hall building, Concordia students and Montreal residents were invited to discuss various methods to start their own small-space indoor and outdoor, year-round gardens. Surrounded by hanging foliage within the glass structure, Swirlz spoke about seasonal harvesting and explained the beneficial outcomes of gardening, when done effectively.

Swirlz delved into sprouting and microgreens, hydroponics, window farming, and more. While adapting to the seasons, gardening in the city can seem daunting: “I think people think that it’s simple […] but, in the beginning, there’s a lot of set-ups, a lot of research to optimize your growing systems,” Swirlz explained.

Swirlz highlighted that a garden can be personalized. “In my garden, I almost exclusively grow things that you can’t generally find. So, I’ll grow things like cucamelons, which are these little things that look like miniature watermelons, but they taste like cucumbers. They look like little mouth-watermelons. So adorable!”

Urban Homestead Montreal hosted their event in the Concordia Greenhouse on the 13th floor of the Hall building. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

When planting in the spring, whether indoors or outdoors, Swirlz recommends Swiss chard and kale or hearty herbs like parsley, oregano, and mint, all of which regrow every year. For Swirlz, Swiss chard and kale are the go-to vegetables “because they are super easy to grow, [and] they’re not prone to pests as much as other things, they’re extremely nutrient rich.”

Swirlz mentioned that during the spring season, people can be introduced to wild harvesting by getting involved with various Montreal organizations and plant shops that will take you on foraging walks. Neumark Design, Naughty Nettles Medicinals and Myco Boutique all offer plant-identifying workshops and activities. During these walks, you can forage for edibles like fiddleheads, morel mushrooms, dandelions and stinging nettles.

According to Swirlz, gardening can bring communities together, all while offering a self-reliant lifestyle. “It’s like knitting and baking. It’s to make people feel better. It does feel good to do things with our hands,” she said. “Gardening really connects us with plants, makes us feel like we’re part of nature again, and it makes people feel better.”

During the winter, growing mushrooms or germinating your own sprouts indoors are some of the most exciting and cost-effective ways to cultivate during the cold months.

Martha Martinez, a Concordia student and event attendee, thought the topic of mushrooms was the most interesting of Swirlz’s presentation. “It’s something that we eat a lot where I live with my family. We don’t buy shiitake every week. That is an expensive kind of mushroom.”

Swirlz enjoys planting indoors during her free time and prefers this cheap alternative compared to always shopping at grocery stores. “It is a way of saying, ‘No more capitalizing on food.’ Being able to feed your family and being able to have food on your table should not be a business,” she said.

Feature photo by Alex Hutchins


A home for sustainability, community and all things green

Since 1966, the Concordia Greenhouse has offered sanctuary and education to students

On the 13th floor of the Hall building lies a hidden rooftop oasis. The peaceful, plant-filled haven is a place of refuge and stillness in the busy city. It’s a space where the community can gather to study, socialize, sip a cup of tea and connect with nature. This student sanctuary is a strong component of Montreal’s urban agriculture scene and one of the university’s best-kept secrets: the Concordia Greenhouse.

Concordia student Shakti Langlois Ortega said she wishes she visited the greenhouse more often, as “it’s such an amazing environment.”

“When it’s cold outside, it’s a nice way to be with nature,” she added. “I love the plants and the care they give them.”

According to their website, the greenhouse’s mission is “to provide a welcoming, organic green space that fosters community by providing experiential learning opportunities within a year-round growing environment.” The non-profit also prides itself on a green space that encourages organic, sustainable horticulture students can enjoy.

Photo by Alex Hutchins

“Everyone loves a sunny, plant-filled space,” said Sheena Swirlz, the greenhouse’s services coordinator.

The greenhouse is largely supported by a fee levy, the annual collection of $0.24 per undergraduate student per credit. For a typical bachelor’s degree of 90 credits, a student contributes a total of $21.60 to the greenhouse through student fees over course of their studies. While students can choose to opt out, the greenhouse uses these funds to complete more projects, organize more events and make changes where they are needed.

Another major source of funding for the greenhouse is plant sales. While large selling days are held several times per year, the greenhouse continuously offers a variety of products to students and the community, such as sprouting kits, terrariums, houseplants, honey and medicinal herbs.

Originally built in 1966, the greenhouse was always intended to be part of the Hall building’s infrastructure. Since then, it has developed into the go-to campus hub for everything environmentally-friendly. It provides a variety of resources that promote education and research on topics of sustainability, such as food security.

The People’s Potato, a collectively-run soup kitchen at Concordia offering vegan meals to students and community members on a pay-what-you-can basis, has long been partnered with the greenhouse, especially when it comes to sourcing sustainable food. According to a testimonial by the People’s Potato on the Concordia Greenhouse website, the greenhouse “fulfills a key role in this community by providing accessible services around environmental sustainability, permaculture, composting and many others.”

In addition to providing Concordia with easy access to ecological, wallet-friendly food on campus, the greenhouse also hosts a number of sustainability-oriented events every week. Workshops, film screenings as well as community projects and gatherings are just some of the ways the greenhouse contributes to a more sustainable Concordia.

“Upcoming events and workshops are posted on our Facebook and website,” Swirlz said. “Macrame hanging planters, terrariums and indoor mushroom cultivation are our most popular recurring workshops.”

This year, the greenhouse is gearing up for a slew of new activities and old favourites. Until Oct. 31, their very own City Farm School market stand will continue to be featured at the Loyola campus urban farm every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Their stand offers fresh, organic produce, such as vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Photo by Alex Hutchins

Until Dec. 4, the greenhouse will also be offering a weekly Microgreen Community-Supported Agriculture Program (CSA). Students interested in the program would pay a discounted amount for a weekly sprout order and receive a 200 gram bag of sprouts—a “great way to save money” and “[guarantee] you receive a supply of [their] super-popular and super-local sprouts each week,” according to the greenhouse’s Facebook page.

For students interested in getting involved in the greenhouse, there are countless opportunities to learn and gain experience through workshops, internships and volunteer sessions. This year, the greenhouse is recruiting new board of directors members at their annual general meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. They are also recruiting candidates for weekly volunteer sessions and longer internships.

The best part about working at the greenhouse “is watching people’s eyes widen in delight,” Swirlz said. “They are so excited to learn about this gem of urban agriculture right in the heart of downtown.”

The Concordia Greenhouse is open to visitors on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photos by Alex Hutchins


A new year for Concordia’s Greenhouse

A look at the different events that the Greenhouse has in store for students

The Concordia Greenhouse is a relaxing place to get in touch with nature and greenery. Located on the 13th floor of the Hall building, the Greenhouse welcomes volunteers and students are looking for a place to study, a place to socialize or a place to learn about environmental sustainability.

The Greenhouse executives are preparing for a busy year with many different events and special activities. Sheena Swirlz, the Greenhouse services and programming coordinator, said they will be hosting two weekly volunteering sessions, one on Mondays, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the other on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. At these weekly meetings, volunteers are taught how to grow vegetables and take care of plants. “By coming to these meetings, it’s a great way to learn new skills,” said Swirlz. These sessions are open to anyone at anytime, with no experience required.

Swirlz said there are three plant sales being organized throughout the year—one scheduled for October, one in the winter and one in May. At these plant sales, the Greenhouse will be selling low-light houseplants, which are well-adapted for the environment of a Montreal apartment, she said.

Swirlz said there will be events happening three to four times per week this year at the Greenhouse. “We would like to host events in which people learn how to make a terrarium, grow decorative and edible plants and finally, a series of permaculture projects,” Swirlz said. These projects will introduce the concept of permaculture to the Greenhouse visitors, which is a sustainable way to develop an agricultural ecosystem. “We also have a Halloween dance party coming up in the Greenhouse.” The Greenhouse space can also be booked for presentations and concerts.

The Greenhouse also offers four internship programs: a Four Seasons Growing; House Plants and Atrium Garden; Media and Outreach; and Farmers’ Market Stand. “We just started our first round of interns for this semester and will start looking for new ones in December,” said Swirlz. The applications will be posted on their website. These internships are open to anyone with a passion to growing their own food or plants. With this opportunity, students will be able to gain experience, learn new techniques, improve skills, help with different useful projects and even be able to put their experience time on their co-curricular record, Swirlz said.

You can visit the Concordia Greenhouse on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and try some of their ecologically-grown food available at the Frigo Vert, at 1440 Mackay Street.

Student Life

Go green for Halloween at the Greenhouse

Join the Concordia Greenhouse team with pumpkin carving and zombie-mandrakes

The Concordia Greenhouse is planting some spooky seeds this week with a Jack O’ Lantern and Halloween decorations workshop tonight, and a zombie apocalypse party on All Hallows’ Eve. The best news is, both events are free.

The second installment of their bi-weekly “Art in the Atrium” workshops will take a festive air tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Greenhouse Atrium.

This just might be the perfect opportunity to nudge you to get those last-minute Halloween decorations up, as the greenhouse opens its doors and invites all to bring pumpkins, apples, squash, or potatoes to carve into Jack O’ Lantern masterpieces.

If getting your hands all up in the guts of gourds isn’t your cup of tea, the “Art in the Atrium” team will have some classic Halloween decoration projects on tap too.

Then, on Halloween night, help fight off an infestation of mandrake-zombies that have sprouted up in the greenhouse’s soil.

Everyone knows the best way to tame brain-eating zombie-mandrakes is to overwhelm them with music, snacks, and dancing. The zombie-themed Halloween rooftop garden party will take place from 7 to 10 p.m., and costumes are expected.

DJ Swirlz will secure the space with dark rock and electric swing sounds, along with live ukulele and banjo acts to quell those pesky zombies’ bloodthirst.

The party will be hosted on the rooftop garden of the greenhouse at 1455 de Maisonneuve W. Blvd.

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