Published: July 21, 2017

by Jasmin Malik Chua

When the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent began pushing for green roofs, a supermarket wondered if it could do regulations one better. Fast-forward a few years and IGA Extra Famille Duchemin now claims to be the first grocery store in Canada to sell produce grown on its own roof. High above its LEED Gold-certified retail space, IGA’s 25,000-foot garden features more than 30 different varieties of certified-organic produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, kale, eggplant, and basil.

Speaking to the Ottawa Citizen, co-owner Richard Duchemin said he decided to perceive Saint-Laurent’s requirement not as a burden but an opportunity.

Not only does a green roof help regulate the temperature of the building below it, saving energy, but it also feeds into consumer demand for food with a smaller carbon footprint.

“People are very interested in buying local,” he said. “There’s nothing more local than this.”

The garden, which is irrigated using water reclaimed from the store’s dehumidification system, has also become a mini-Eden for birds, bees, and other embattled urban fauna.

Duchemin compares IGA’s produce-laden roof to those “little boxes where [supermarkets] grow herbs,” but on a grander scale. “We pushed it further because we know we’re able to sell what we produce here,” he added.

If proven successful, GA Extra Famille Duchemin could even kick-start a trend across Canada. Pierre St-Laurent, executive vice-president for Quebec at Sobeys, which owns the IGA chain, is said to be following the store’s progress with great interest.