Antonio and Saqib, Member Farmers

Grow Rillas

Antonio holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a permaculture design certificate and is certified soil consultant. Prior joining Fresh City Farms Antonio worked in space robotics, racecar design, GPS tracking and information management software where he gained several years of research and development experience. Antonio came to Fresh City Farms in order to learn farming techniques from other urban farmers with a focus on intensive city agriculture.

Saqib, who hold a Bachelor of Science in Materials Engineering and worked with Antonio in racecar design, has joined Fresh City in order to apply his design experience to food growing. By better understanding organic farming, Saqib hopes to compliment his enthusiasm for food with sustainable responsibility.

Saqib and I were trying to write our Fresh City bio and had to come up with a name. We wanted it to reflect our Guerilla approach to changing food mentality in the urban environment. Were a small team trying to show people¬† how ingenuity and resourcefulness can go along way but the name Urban Guerilla Gardner’s doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Earlier in the day Saqib & I were removing a ‘mobile’ permaculture installation from a second floor court yard which required the use of a freight elevator to remove the main component of the installation: a large wood structure that was engineered to just squeeze through the large hall ways of this former textile factory. The freight elevator was kaput, so we opted for the main staircase and the front entrance.

Lets just say gravity + large wooden structure + steep & narrow stairs = near death experience.¬† Thankfully staircases were built much sturdier back in the day… In hindsight it wasn’t the smartest of ideas – as pointed out by Tony’s better half, we were being less Guerilla and more like Gorillas. Pow! The Grow Rillas were named. Nimble and resourceful but with the right amount of forceful persuasion when needed.

One of the toughest plots of land at fresh city farms was dominated by crab grass. But not to worry The Grow Rillas were up to the challenge. Summer came early to Toronto this year and so The Grow Rillas took full advantage of the great weather, by bringing the plot into shape as soon as they possibly could. Their end goal was fresh fruits and vegetable in the fresh city boxes and not crab grass. So this is how they did it…

Our plan was to stop the crab grass from germinating, and then build raised beds over the whole plot. This meant hauling almost 100 wheel barrows of compost, from the far corner of Fresh city farms all the way to our plot, which is on the opposite end of the farm. Even this unbelievable feat was not enough to deplete Phil’s giant pile of sh… Compost. It was imperative we lay the compost down as early as possible to ensure ample time was given to build up the soil quality. Split up over the month of May, with Antonio studying the craft in Montana and Saqib holding up the Toronto front. Saqib spent his days maintaining the plots and fought a relentless battle against the thistles.

In the month of June, Antonio was back and the two had won against the crab grass and now have started to transplant of their first plants to the beds.

Happy growing,
The Grow Rillas