Urban farming growing on Calgarians
Here we grow again! As Calgary warms to spring and snowplows give way to street sweepers, The City is planting the seeds for a greener, healthier and more prosperous future.
City of Calgary Growth Strategies Sustainability Consultant Kristi Peters Snider says creating opportunity for businesses is a big win for all Calgarians.
Since 2012, when the CalgaryEATS! Food Action Plan program was started, Peters Snider has been making it easier for Calgarians to buy local, healthy food. She and the Calgary Growth Strategies team are creating more opportunities to build a sustainable and resilient food system through policy changes, pilot projects, research and community partnerships.
“Calgary’s food system does much more than just feed people. The food system impacts and is impacted by everything from urban planning and land use policies to economic development to health, diet and well-being,” she said. “The ripple effects of a vibrant food system are felt beyond grocery sales and local production; it means stronger economic growth and resiliency for our city, it means healthier students who can learn better, a higher quality of life for community residents, and greater equity and social inclusion among residents.”
As a result of the Food Action Plan, there are now more than 149 community gardens, 12 farmers markets and more than 20 local breweries.
There are even transit fresh food markets. The City has located fresh food stands along the primary transit network to support increased access to healthy food for all Calgarians. Markets officially launched in 2017 and operate five days a week in the summer during peak commute times at alternating stations.
“The Transit Markets are a fun way to bring more healthy food to Calgarians while at the same time providing much needed retail opportunities for local farmers,” said Peters Snider.
Policy changes can impact food security, which is why The City made amendments to the Land Use Bylaw in 2017. The City wanted to provide opportunities for small and large businesses to develop indoor farms in the Industrial and Commercial districts. The changes also mean more opportunities for the emerging food production businesses of aquaponics, aquaculture and vertical farms.
“In recent years, communities across Calgary have expressed growing interest in local food production, consumption, and sales of locally grown food,” said Peters Snider. “As the market for local food expands, new opportunities for local food production emerge, creating the need for The City to support and enable local food businesses.”
As Calgary continues to grow, The City is responding to new and emerging opportunities in the food system.