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Vancouvering

Metro explores the latest trends emerging on the West Coast of Canada.

Vancouver trending: Hidden rooftop gardens blossom in city core

Each green oasis offers a respite from the city, produces food for local restaurants, encourages community-building, and promotes environmental awareness.

Fairmont Waterfront's 'Bee Butler' Michael King, with honey harvested from the rooftop garden.

Courtesy of Fairmont Hotel

Fairmont Waterfront's 'Bee Butler' Michael King, with honey harvested from the rooftop garden.

On the third floor of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in downtown Vancouver lies a hidden oasis, a 2,100-square-foot garden. 

In summer, it brims with seasonal produce with birds flitting through the branches of its apple and fig trees.

One of Vancouver's first green roofs, the garden offers up edible blossoms; vegetables such as garlic, tomatoes, carrots, and beans; fruits like figs, grapes and strawberries; and fresh herbs like lavender, rosemary and basil.

"We are incredibly proud of our garden and love to share our story," said Kristyna Vogel, manager of marketing and public relations at the Fairmont Waterfront.

The Vancouver Courthouse's rooftop garden.

Amy Logan/For Metro

The Vancouver Courthouse's rooftop garden.

All are used in the chef's daily dishes at the hotel's ARC restaurant. The garden is also home to four beehives, a pollinator hotel, and more than 250,ooo honeybees.

Apiary tours, conducted by Michael King, the hotel's “bee butler," are available in summer, and the hotel has recently partnered with Hives for Humanity as part of the Pollinator Corridor Project.

Vancouver is home to several hidden rooftop gardens that offer a respite from the gritty urban core, produce food for local restaurants, encourage community-building, and promote environmental awareness. 

For instance, UBC's recently completed Nest Student Union Building boasts a rooftop garden, including space to grow food, and students can join the Roots on the Roof Club to help with planting and harvesting, and learn about sustainability.

The rooftop garden atop UBC's Student Union Building.

Jolene Loveday/Contributed

The rooftop garden atop UBC's Student Union Building.

Hidden on the roof of Arthur Erickson's Vancouver Courthouse, a 3- block long garden with lush greenery and waterfall fountains creates a natural cooling system for the law courts below. As Erickson once described his philosophy, it is “architecture that is in dialogue with the world.”

The Vancouver Convention Centre has the largest living roof in Canada. Its six acres of gardens are home to over 400,000 grasses and other plants, designed to insulate the building, and it hosts several beehives. Public tours can be arranged through the Convention Centre.

The Vancouver Public Library's 28,000 sq. ft rooftop has been off-limits to the public since the library's construction in 1995. At thirty meters above the street, the garden has no safety barricades and is covered in native grasses. However, plans are apparently in the works to make it publicly accessible in the next few years.