Justin Nadeau and Leif Loponen at Bendale

FoodShare’s Justin Nadeau and green industry teacher Leif Loponen at Bendale Business and Technical Institute.

FoodShare’s annual fundraiser, Recipe for Change, is coming up on the evening of February 28, and features over 30 top Toronto chefs and Ontario wineries (click here for more information and tickets). As one of Toronto’s top three chef-driven events, Recipe for Change always gets lots of press centred on whose cooking and pouring what, but this year, Good Food Revolution decided to check out one of the on the ground projects the event will actually fund, the market garden and aquaponic projects at Bendale Business and Technical Institute.

Bendale is Toronto District School Board high school with a vocational bent on Midland, north of Lawrence in the old Toronto borough of Scarborough. Built in 1962, it sits on expansive grounds on which raised garden beds have been scattered. Inside, in what used to be called the horticulture room, but now is the home of the study of “green industry” I met FoodShare liaison Justin Nadeau and teacher Leif Loponen. At the far end of Loponen’s classroom were two big blue plastic tubs, with pipes running out of them into smaller tubs, and a rectangular shelf, itself topped with a bank of lights, over each with the remnants of recently harvested greens. Those big tubs were filled with tilapia which, the burbling filtration system the two men (who each have an engineering background) had set up fed the plants.

Leif Loponen teaches Green Industry at Bendale

Bendale’s outdoor gardens and market are taken care of by students hired over the summertime.

Nadeau and I retired to an adjoining greenhouse, where it was quiet, to shoot the video below. In it he explains how the innovative program works, how it ties into Bendale’s culinary and business programs by providing ingredients for student cooks and a market to be run by student business managers and how FoodShare’s program enacts positive change.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

NB: Exterior shot photo credit in video to GreenFuse / Laura Berman. Interior to Justin Nadeau.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the mix of fish and vegetable farming at Bendale as “agroponics” rather than aquaponics.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the not-for-profit corporation which publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley