There’s been a growing trend in the City of Calgary. Actually I think it’s been a round for a while, but just recently more and more people and companies are jumping on the bandwagon and for good reason – Urban access to sustainable (even organic) produce.
Sustainable produce is hard to get in Calgary. Just last month I purchased an avocado from the big-chain grocery store whose origin was Peru. Peru! That’s a 13hr 25min flight. Likely over a week via boat/train/truck.
Farmer’s Markets? Most markets in the Calgary area are populated with produce providers from June until October. Which is great. There are a lot of options and some offer year-round produce availability. Take your time to discover the small growers making strides to provide access to sustainable produce in the local Calgary area.
Local food delivery services are also an option. Spud and new-comer Yuba to name a couple. Spud does a great job of making it simple to get organic food delivered to your door. They’ll even tell you where it’s from. Yuba is a “startup focused solely on brining 100% local foods to downtown Calgary.” We love Yuba because everything they source – from Chicken legs to Tomatoes to balsamic vinegar – is from right here in Alberta.
Community Gardens are a great option for people wanting to get more involved in knowing where their food comes from. Search “Calgary Community Garden” and a plethora of options pop up. What’s great about these is not only the opportunity to access locally grown produce during the summer months, but they are typically driven by a community-led group, involves the local public and uses existing local land – a fantastic option for finding local produce.
Community Crop, the Calgary Horticultural Society, Grow Calgary, and other CSA’s (Community Shared Agriculture) such as YYC Growers are good places to get more information about community gardens in and access local produce Calgary.
Greenhouses and Aquaponics
The question remains, is it possible to get locally grown produce right here in Calgary all year round? Could aquaponics this be the way of the future of getting produce from right here in Calgary to your lunch table year round? What about greenhouses?
We checked in with a couple of locals working the aquaponic route: Urban Ag, founded by Paul Shumlich and Growing Gardeners founded by Scott Weir are both University students looking to make urban gardening a reality.
We’ve learned a lot about Small Plot Intensive Agriculture and how a small aquaponics set up can feed a small family. By small we mean needing enough room in a basement for a fish tank and small plot to grow your food. This is great for growing non-root veggies such as tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuces.
There are even a few giants utilizing aquaponics in larger-scale processes facilities such as Nutraponics.
We asked Paul about accessing local produce and the impact it’s having on Calgarians.
“It’s increasingly important for several reasons. In Alberta, we important way more produce than we export, and a large part of it is food that can be grown locally. We import from B.C. and California; highway closures and water restrictions are putting a squeeze on our access to produce. I see this as an opportunity to engage the community and create economic activity through the development of food systems while having a positive environmental impact.”
Paul sees Calgarians absolutely taking up more urban gardening in the near future.
“Produce grown locally is a movement towards a more sustainable future and that is something which is a reality and something we need,” says Paul. “What local produce is not and cannot be is a fad, however, I do not see it being that because people want it!”
Want to try urban gardening yourself? Try building your own greenhouse or aquaponics systems, taking a course from Growing Gardens, hiring a team to do it for you, Calgary landscape designers or landscape contractors, or simply chatting with a few friendly farmers at your local market. You’re bound to get the information you need.
Many see Calgary as having the opportunity to be one of the top urban agricultural cities in the world. We hope it does.