Shipping Container Market Offers Affordable Groceries for Low-Income Toronto Residents

There’s a new market in Toronto’s Moss Park neighbourhood that could make a major difference for its residents.

Yet again, a retired shipping container has been put to good use.

Food advocates have converted an old transport bin into a full produce market to bring fresh, healthy, and affordable produce to the inhabitants of the predominantly low-income community.

Moss Park Market is the project of BuildingRoots, a Toronto food advocacy organization. The market sits on the lawn of the Toronto Community Housing buildings, near Queen Street East and Ontario Street.

Donated by the company Storstac, the shipping container will remain open year-round and is insulated, with air conditioning and heating.

The market is run by Wali Barak, who is familiar with the business by having run a farmers’ market in Regent Park for almost 20 years. Having the market in a shipping container, free of rental charges, means that he can sell the produce at a more affordable price to disadvantaged residents.


When it comes to obtaining quality organic fruits and vegetables, cost isn’t the only detriment for the city’s financially disadvantaged set. Many low-income residents face mobility issues that can make it challenging to access healthy groceries.

That’s why the shopping container market brings it to them. “We both had the idea of bringing the food to the residents, rather than the residents having to go find fresh fruits and vegetables to feed themselves and their families,” said Lisa Kates, cofounder of Building Roots.

According to CBC News, Barak said he tries to offer a wide variety of produce, such as bitter melon, long squash and plantains.

Aside from the nutrition aspect, the market offers a means to bring the community members together in a productive environment. If there’s one thing people can bond over, it’s food.

If the market is successful, the hope is to set up similar ventures in other communities around the city.