Gus the Tomato Girl
Augusta Monet has two loves: theatre and plants. “It’s pretty much the only reason I took biology class,” she confesses with a half grin, “because I love plants.” This Ryerson-bound, high-school graduate has been working a unique summer job: nurturing her own rooftop market garden. For the past four summers, she has used her father’s roof above Cube Gallery in Wellington West, Ottawa, to grow heirloom tomatoes, basil, mint and nasturtiums.
Being the young entrepreneur that she is, she fills a straw basket with her homegrown produce and walks across the street to deliver it to both Petit Bill’s Bistro and the Wellington Gastropub. “I started with just tomatoes because Chris Deraiche from the Gastropub had told my father that he would buy local tomatoes grown on a roof top. Then I started growing the herbs and the nasturtiums for Petit Bill’s, because they asked if I could after they saw my tomatoes.” She sells her tomatoes for $5 a pound.
Her mother gardens at home but Monet claims she learned “mostly by doing, searching the internet and reading gardening manuals.” Her polished, organized and virtually weed-free garden proves her self-taught ability. Some years she has started her plants from seed but with her grade 12 year of school being so busy, she purchased plants from the farmer’s market to get established with ease.
Standing over Wellington St., the cars buzzing below, friends walking side by side and catching shade under trees and in the many shops that line the street, Monet gently guides her tomato plant to stand taller. “I guess it’s taught me about the incredible importance of sustainability and eating food as local as possible to help that model to function. The less and less we buy from big corporations the better — for both the environment and our diet.”
Some kids just get it.