A Thriving Legacy

It’s entirely possible that you drive by Canada’s largest urban garden regularly without even realizing it. From University Avenue all you can see is the squat, brown 1970’s building known as the PEI Farm Centre, hugged on either side by the CBC building and the Allen Street Sobeys. When you go around to the back of the building, however, you discover a stunning 8.5-acre expanse of land that’s been converted into a highly productive space for urban agriculture and is known as The Legacy Garden.

Seeing a need for Islanders to have better access to fresh healthy food, the Legacy Garden was created in 2014 after receiving funding to create the public space. “Food insecurity on PEI is a huge issue and it was a big part of the motivation for building the Legacy Garden,” notes Phil Ferraro, who manages the Farm Centre and has been an integral part of the Legacy Garden since its very beginnings. “We wanted to do organic food production on a scale that could make a difference.”

Joe Murray (L) and Phil Ferraro (R) help ensure the Legacy Garden continues to grow

Joe Murray (L) and Phil Ferraro (R) help ensure the Legacy Garden continues to grow.

In its first year, the Legacy Garden quickly became a sight to behold. In addition to community plots for gardeners to use, numerous donations helped make the space welcoming for gardeners and visitors alike including a stunning entryway that was created by the Restoration Carpentry class at Holland College and a small blue boat, which was converted into a playspace for children.

Over the past three years, workshops have been hosted in the garden including weeding and harvesting, garden composting, and planting fruit trees. In addition to workshops, the Legacy Garden boasts several themed gardens, each contributing to the overall vision of a space that can feed and educate the community while also demonstrating new and viable ways to practice agriculture.


The Legacy Garden is home to a community orchard in which both native and exotic fruits are grown including apples, peaches, cherries, goji berries, grapes, and kiwis. There are also several nut trees in the orchard, producing familiar and less-familiar nut species including butternuts, heartnuts, and walnuts. The space also houses an accessibility garden, children’s garden, sunflower garden (a fundraiser for the QEH), memorial garden, and two urban beehives, providing further opportunities for public education and, importantly, sowing the seeds for a stronger, more engaged community.


Over the last three years, the Community Garden has expanded from an initial 80 plots to 150 plots. Each one is home to a variety of crops and blooms curated and cared for by its owner, who pays a nominal annual fee for use of the space and tools. “We’re growing community resilience along with food. People don’t know their neighbours anymore, but go into the garden and it’s very communal. People share their knowledge and help each other out with tasks,” Ferraro said.


Additionally, The Goodwill Garden consists of almost two acres of mixed organic vegetables, all of which are destined for service agencies including The Salvation Army, the Food Bank, the Soup Kitchen, and Harvest House. “So far this year we’ve harvested over 10,000 pounds of produce up until [mid-September] from the Goodwill Garden,” says Joe Murray, the on-staff farmer who has come back for his third season with the Legacy Garden. “Now that we’re in peak harvest season we’re bringing in about 2,000 pounds a week.”

Sustaining the Legacy Garden has been a challenge, yet not an insurmountable one thanks to the tireless dedication of many community volunteers, the hard work and expertise of the Garden’s on-site farmers who have included Adam MacLean, Jordan MacPhee, Stephanie Dewar, Colleen Freake and Joe Murray, and financial support from both private and public sources.


Visually, the Legacy Garden was and remains an impressive display of urban food production. It is, however, also a testament to what can be achieved when community members, organizations, businesses, and government come together to bring a vision into reality. If you’ve not yet visited the Legacy Garden or it’s been a while, consider checking it out before the snow falls and visiting again when spring arrives. It is truly an inspiring space. For more information visit: peifarmcentre.com.


Shannon Courtney

About Shannon Courtney

Shannon is the co-founder of Salty and was its editor-in-chief for the publication's inaugural year. When she’s not writing about food, Shannon's either cooking, eating, talking, or thinking about it. Her food adventures have included milking a Jersey cow in Australia, almost overdosing on maple syrup in Prince Edward County, and studying local food systems in Vermont as part of her Master’s thesis research. Shannon is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and strongly believes you CAN make friends with salad.

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