hec.ca > Sustainable and responsible management > Hectare urbain

Hectare urbain

Hectare urbain is an urban agriculture project coordinated by HEC Montréal’s Sustainable Transition Office. The project aims to raise community awareness of the importance of preserving biodiversity and making responsible choices. The project offers community members many opportunities to acquire new knowledge and support sustainability.

A permaculture project

The idea behind permaculture is to strengthen the interactions observed in the natural environment in order to maintain and develop the functions of a robust ecosystem.

 “Permaculture is a design science rooted in the observation of natural systems. The principles of permaculture teach us how to design ways of living that have the stability and resiliency of natural systems… It strives for a sustainable agricultural production that is energy efficient and respectful of living beings and their reciprocal relations, while leaving nature as much space as possible.”

Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, “fathers” of permaculture

Our objectives

  • To raise community awareness and preserve biodiversity: We focus on improving the diversity of plant species to help pollinators stay healthy, as well as on protecting fauna and flora and reducing heat islands.
  • To develop a sustainable and inspiring collective project in order to prove that the leaders of tomorrow are able to build a responsible society: Our academic community helps society develop sustainable solutions and make informed economic and environmental decisions.
  • To conduct action research in a real-life lab developed by the student community with support from our specialists and partners.
  • To promote the social economy models taught at HEC Montréal.
  • To create a living environment and a sharing community: Hectare urbain has a social purpose. Our community can use this space to think about food-related questions, as well as about societal habits and production and distribution practices.
  • To provide education, training and outreach activities in elementary and secondary schools: An intergenerational dialogue promotes peer-to-peer knowledge exchanges.

3 action areas

The forest garden and nectar-source areas

The layout of the west path on HEC Montréal’s campus gave rise to a honey-producing forest. This layout was inspired by permaculture principles. The goal is to preserve, highlight and improve biodiversity and to create a place for exchanging, learning and conducting action research.



m2 of urban forest

More than


plant species


  • The urban forest project was developed with support from the student community and School staff. The forest includes an herb spiral, several connected groves, two seed farms and around 20 fruit trees.
  • The goal is to leverage Mount Royal’s rustic areas to promote diversity and highlight heritage species, which are more rare or unusual in the local urban landscape.
  • Several areas with nectar-source plants provide a welcoming environment to native pollinators.
  • Seven recovered plant layers strengthen interactions between fauna and flora to maintain and develop the ecosystem’s functions. 

The library, vegetable garden and seed conservation

This component helps the community learn about and reuse native seeds. It raises public awareness of soil erosion and the diversity of plant genetics, and provides access to the region’s unknown plant heritage. Food diversity, which is a key factor to adapt our food system to climate change, has unfortunately decreased over the past few decades.

More than


rustic seeds preserved

More than


seed packets available for self-service at the HEC Montréal library

The school sponsorship program
  • The program aims to help schools implement sustainable development programs based on permaculture principles.
  • The program helps the student community interact with elementary school children to teach them about permaculture principles.

More than


students have learned about permaculture

More than


themed workshops



sponsored schools


The Office of Sustainable Development created and coordinates this program. The program falls within HEC Montréal’s teaching and academic role, including by:

  • Exchanging and thinking about food issues
  • Acquiring knowledge
  • Raising awareness about preserving biodiversity
  • Putting the student community’s expertise to use for society’s benefit

This project:

  • Aims to raise awareness among the student community, staff and HEC Montréal visitors about matters related to our planet’s biodiversity preservation.
  • Encourages thinking about our food habits and our food production and distribution practices.
  • Focuses on activities such as training workshops and conferences, and on learning by planning and maintaining the project’s agricultural spaces.

Interested in joining the project?

Volunteering: Find a role that inspires you

  • Maintaining the vegetable garden and densifying the forest garden
  • Preparing and hosting workshops and events to raise project visibility
  • Raising peer awareness of urban agriculture, permaculture and biodiversity
  • Participating in the school sponsorship program
  • Developing and implementing financial perpetuation strategies

Hectare urbain is managed by an executive committee composed of volunteers, staff and members of the student and alumni communities. The committee’s work aims to encourage people to take part in the project, ensure its financial perpetuity and exchange and share knowledge and ideas.

To participate, email ddurable@hec.ca

HECtare urbain’s friends:
A key collaboration

The project continues to grow thanks to its volunteers, partners and donors.

  • Corporate partners
  • Students, faculty and staff
  • Community members who care deeply about our mission

Do you want to join them? Email ddurable@hec.ca

Do you want to make a donation? Choose the option “Sustainability initiatives Fund” in the online donation form.

Recognition beyond campus

  • Finalist at the International Green Gown Awards for the Benefitting Society award (July 2020)
  • Trophée des campus responsables francophones (January 2020)
  • Space for Life recognition and inclusion in WWF-Canada’s Biopolis project (June 2019)
  • Finalist at the Prix Novae awards – Outreach and engagement category (April 2018)
  • Finalist at the EnviroLys 2017 awards – Projet Vert ICI+ category (October 2017)
  • Recipient of the Fondation Monique-Fitz-Back’s Prix d’excellence pour l’éducation au développement durable (award of excellence for sustainable development education), in the university category (September 2016)

Hectare urbain project managers would like to thank their partners and founders, without whom the project would not have been possible. In particular, they would like to highlight the role of Jacques Fortin, Johanne Turbide, Émilie Nolet, Karine Navilys et Nadia Ponce-Morales.