Derek Vincent is an urban homesteader, harvesting a diverse selection of nano crops on a rooftop and two balconies in the heart of Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.
His mission is to show city dwellers around the world that they can joyfully grow and harvest their own food in even the tightest urban spaces. He even helped his mother set up some Glowpears to do just that!
We sat down with Derek to find out about his gardening projects.
GP: What’s your background, where you grew up, and what are your influences?
DV: I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, but worked abroad in South Korea for 3 years and travel a lot, always most interested in visiting cities and urban green spaces. I have always lived in cities and, despite my love of gardening, have never seriously considered leaving for the countryside as I enjoy the energy and multicultural offerings of an urban context. As a child, my parents always introduced me to new foods, and as I traveled I discovered a passion for cooking classes and food culture as a way of exploring and better understanding new places and people.
GP: What drew you to working in the 'grow your own' space?
DV: 20 years ago, I started by growing a few basil plants on my back balcony. That first year, they started off great, but then grew tall and bitter. I wanted to know what went wrong, so I read as much as I could about basil online. Year after year, I tried to improve my skills, adding—well, A LOT of other plants along the way. Then the pandemic hit and I got lost in my gardening. Things have probably gotten a little out of hand with all the additions and experimenting—but I couldn’t be happier!
GP: How do you best 'spread the urban jungle'?
DV: I started sharing my urban gardening adventures on Tiktok in 2022, and I have been blown away by how welcoming and encouraging the gardening community has been there! I am not doing anything gimmicky or outrageously attention grabbing. I’m just sharing my normal seasonal gardening activities, and some nerdy projects that I am probably too excited about—and it seems to resonate with people! Maybe it’s because people are stressed out by the pressures of modern life, or maybe it’s because people don’t have the money or space for kids or even pets, but it’s clear to me that I’m not spreading the urban jungle as much as it is that people crave to care about something beyond themselves, something they can nurture and actually see grow and prosper.
GP: How has the digital revolution helped you connect with like-minded gardeners?
DV: Social media platforms like Tiktok and Youtube are so powerful — but ever more importantly, the information they make available is so empowering! With just a few taps, you can find and connect with millions of like-minded gardening enthusiasts — and learn so much from them! Progressive or conservative, rich or poor, urban or rural—everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to growing veggies! It’s the ultimate common denominator and I’ve loved connecting with everyone, sharing my knowledge and learning new tips along the way!
GP: What projects are you working on in the future?
DV: As I mentioned, things have already kind of gotten out of hand, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I would like to get more serious about mushroom growing, and I’m nervously considering raising quail for eggs… please don’t tell my neighbours about the quail.
We won't Derek!
Check Derek and his gardening adventures on Tiktok today (and some examples of his content below)!