Saturday, December 20, 2008

CUA meetup report

This Thursday was our most recent CUA meetup, and I was very pleased to see about a dozen hard core participants come to chat about the latest happenings in Calgary. Thanks to everyone who braved blistering winds and subzero temperatures to show up during the busiest time of the year - your commitment definitely brightened up my day. Also, thanks to Grant for coming, as always, to help with the meeting and to push me into learning how to organize groups on my own.

It's December, and despite the freezing weather, a surprising amount is going on with urban agriculture. There are a lot of plans being made, campaigns being formed, and a great deal of interest in making progress. We met a teacher from Rundle who is planning a garden with students, for example. We discussed the reasons why we thought of urban agriculture as an important movement (which I will talk about in my next post.) There was also interest in the facilitation of some workshops in relation to agriculture, which I will be looking into in the coming months. If you, or someone you know, has some area of knowledge or expertise, please feel free to drop me a line. I like to get teachers and students together.

I'm also looking into getting some small funding, to see if there is more than can be done in that area. As usual - if you have any connections, ideas or plans please let me know.

Baking soda and vinegar

Today filled an old shampoo bottle with a half and half mix of vinegar and water (about a cup total) which could be dabbed on a cloth for general cleaning or squirted into nooks and crannies that were really gunky. I used this on nearly everything that needed cleaning in approximately the following order: the walls, the cabinets and shelves, the basin, the surfaces in the shower, and finally the cleaner surfaces of the toilet. This dealt with the majority of scum and residues wonderfully. In some places I had to let the water and vinegar sit for a bit, so I would rub a bit on and then go and work elsewhere for a while before coming back to give the problem spot a good scrub.

The baking soda was used on the pervasive blue stains in the sink and the shower tiling (Why blue? Who knows... I'd guess that your stain colours may vary). I had heard that you could use the soda with a cloth but that didn't seem to work as well as just rubbing it in with my hands so I ended up pouring a couple table spoons of soda onto a plate and taking pinches of it and rubbing it in by hand. Yes, I loosened the majority of grunge build-up by scrubbing with my hands. It was immensely satisfying and I have yet to notice any ill effects on my skin (other than a slight soapy feeling until I washed my hands in the sink). After such handy scrubbing it just took a bit of a wipe with the vinegar cloth to finish up.

Conclusion? I feel more comfortable working with things that I'm happy to put in my food. It also did a perfectly respectable job of cleaning as judged by my intuition, visual check, and sense of touch. And I'd recommend everyone try it at least once.

Friday, December 12, 2008



The CFPC met yesterday to talk about plans for a 2011 Calgary campaign. This campaign will play off of goals in cities like London and Vancouver to have over 2000 community gardens in the city by said year. In the new year, the group will be continuing to grow, become more organized and start to promote itself- beginning with an article in the Herald. This is an exciting plan, and one I'll be keeping you informed about as it progresses.

2012 urban gardens in London by 2012

CUA Meetup!

Thursday the 18th will be our next Calgary Urban Agriculture meetup! We invite everyone out to share what they're involved with, projects they're working on, or just to come learn about what's happening around urban agriculture in Calgary.

Details on Facebook

Personal Research

In Vancouver, I've been beginning my research to design a microhome, with closed-loop food and waste processing systems, higher energy production than consumption and passive heating/ cooling. This is obviously a demanding project, one which will take me on many adventures over the course of the next2 years. Feel free to chat with me about the project, whether you are simply interested, have questions, or would like to share experience/ technical expertise. All interest is welcome!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Interview with Andy Nichols

Here is a correspondence/ interview I've had with Andy Nichols, a Journalism student at SAIT. I thought I would post the questions and answers.

Ms. Simpson,

Hello my name is Andy Nichols and I am a second year photojournalism student at SAIT. I am working on a feature story for class about the recent rise in Locavores, and people following the "100-mile diet".

Essentially I was wondering if it would be at all possible to interview you (as admin of the Urban Agriculture group on facebook) regarding eating only local foods, the method and practice of urban agriculture and the general mentality of exclusively eating from local sustainable sources.

The interview can be done electronically and the resulting article would not be published in a publication, in case that is a concern. It would be strictly used for class and if it were to ever move toward a publication I would most certainly ask all sources in advance.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and for your time.

---Cheers, Andy Nichols---

Hey Andy,

I would certainly be happy to speak to you about the merits of urban agriculture - though the philosophy of this movement is not necessarily based solely on eating locally and encompasses other ideas regarding self-sufficiency and space issues. I can definitely provide some insight on the Urban Agriculture movement, and do have a strong understanding of issues that go hand-in-hand with eating locally.

I myself am not a locavore, being more of a freegan (I'm an art student, it comes with the turf.) I'm concerned with food economics- food waste, the hegemonies of our eating habits, and why we have become so detached from food production. Again, this goes hand in hand with local food as well as the slow-food movement.

You might also be interested to hear about the 100 mile dinner that's happening at Emily Carr, as well as a personal class project in which I fed 20 people with food from dumpsters and food waste bins.

Rachel Simpson

Hello Rachel,

Thank you again for being willing to help me, I greatly appreciate it. Insight on the Urban Agriculture group would be great, and any info you can give me about the locavore philosophy would help out quite a bit.

Also your personal class project sounds extremely interesting. I have heard of Freegansim but only very little. As a part of the feature we have to write a 500 word secondary article related to the primary subject and I could see covering the ideology as a major possibility. The idea of eating only free foods, when I heard it, intrigued me ( I believe that is how it works, correct?). My sister worked for awhile in the bakery department of a Safeway and would often lament the locked dumpster behind the store that was full of perfectly fine cookies, breads and cakes, as it was store policy to purge the shelves of any and all baking at the end of every day. They locked it to keep away animals, they claimed. And probably to maintain demand, since to be honest a know many people who would happily get their wrapped garlic bread from a dumpster for free rather than a shelf for a price.

Did you dinner go well? Was it a surprise/ experiment to see whether or not people could tell the difference? Where did you get the food? Did you have to prepare it all? I am very interested by that idea.

But I digress. Below are a few questions about urban agriculture and locavorism. Please try to be as expansive as possible, and thank you again.

1. Who are you?

2. What do you do?

3. What is urban agriculture?

4. How and why did you become involved with urban agriculture?

5. What are the major downsides to industrialized, or large scale agriculture?

6. What are the major upsides to urban agriculture?

6. What is Locavorism (at least, what is a general summary)?

7. Is urban agriculture related to the ideology of locavorism?

8. Are you yourself a locavore, and/or could you define Freeganism?

8. Do you know of any health benefits of eating locally (either personally or from people you know)? And do you know the downsides to eating industrialized meat and produce?

9. Why do you believe North American society has become so departed from local eating?

10. Where do you see agriculture and eating habits going in the future?

11. Any extra comments on issues related to local eating and the current state of agriculture in Canada?

Also some info regarding Freegansim would be greatly appreciated. Such as where you get your food, how often, what do you say to people who find the idea "unhealthy", etc. I know this a lot to respond to, and I thank you again in advance for helping me.

I hope to hear from you soon, and if you have any questions feel free to ask me.

---Cheers, Andy---

I should probably first state that Calgary Urban Agriculture is not a group or organization in the standard sense. We have no mission statement, no real hierarchy and we don't meet regularly. We aren't all working on one project or towards a specific goal. It's original purpose was to serve as a forum for people already working with urban agriculture and on projects surrounding food security, and to get more people involved with those groups. You can take a look at to see all the blog posts I have made. When I originally created the fb group last summer, we had an overwhelming response. We hosted a couple meetups at Eau Claire Market and were pleasantly surprised with an (almost-too-big) turnout.

The question about who I am is, I'm afraid, rather anticlimactic. I'm a student studying Industrial Design at Emily Carr University, originally from Calgary. I've been involved in community and volunteer work for a long time and in various ways- from working on the steering committee of a website aimed at helping youth be more active in the community to volunteering for CJSW and The Gauntlet, and a whole bunch of other projects.

What I do is study Industrial Design, which seems rather contradictory considering the fact that I'm fairly anti-materialism and not a huge fan of the corporationalist turn our democratic/capitalist structure has taken. The reasons for the program I'm in have to do with learning about restructuring our systems of consumption and coming up with alternatives to the marketed lifestyles we find ourselves participating in. I'm also interested in integrating micro-housing and urban agriculture to make a high standard of living more accessible to a wider range of people. That's the nutshell statement anyway.

Urban agriculture is the practice of growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, and other plant resources in urban centres. This can be small scale- like a backyard garden, it can be "revolutionary" like Guerrilla Gardening, it can be rooftop gardens, school gardens, window ledge pots or planter boxes. It can be large or small scale. An excellent example of a city that has harnessed the power of collective Urban Agriculture is Havana, Cuba. I'm not an expert, but I did attend an excellent talk given by Marella Falat at a conference recently. It was quite impressive to see the progress the Cubans have made in such a short period of time.
Here, just read up:)

The real extent of my involvement in Urban Agriculture has been to get others involved in urban agriculture. Besides volunteering at the UBC Farm a few times, I've been most devoted to getting some push behind the movement in Calgary. I worry about my hometown. The state of food security is disconcerting, the small-town values that people used to talk about seem to be disappearing. Neither of these things bother me as much as what I see in light of my research on the building of sustainable cities. The question is, when the oil boom is over, what reason will people have to stay in Calgary? As a car-oriented city, costs of living are high. Housing costs are high. Public transportation is not a priority, things are not built on a human scale and so on and so forth. I feel that Urban Agriculture has the potential to bring people together on a community scale and allows them to work for the security of their future together. It's a very powerful thing, working to meet basic human needs as a community.

Large scale industrialized agriculture certainly has its downsides- largely that it can be done in a non-sustainable way (when I say sustainable, I mean that it can't keep going on as it is forever) and that businesses like the well-known Monsanto are working to undermine farmers' self-sufficiency. But frankly, I think it's more important to focus on the benefits of empowering action that individuals can take to be more self-sufficient.

The upsides of urban agriculture are pretty numerous. Primarily, the integration of urban agriculture into our lifestyles (like, say, the victory gardens of WWII to use a common example) will lead to greater food security. This frees us from dependence on outside food sources, leaving us less vulnerable to global food or economic crises and attacks on our sovereignty. (When I say attacks on our sovereignty, I mean disadvantageous trade agreements, for example.) In addition to self-sufficiency as a society, there are also the advantages to self-sufficiency on an individual level. Ability to provide our own basic needs makes individuals less vulnerable to economic crisis, providing a safety net- just in case.

There are also numerous benefits to having access to fresh vegetables and fruits whose origins you have control over. There are the benefits of a healthier diet, as well as less ingestion of pesticides (as long as you choose the organic route and take proper precautions against contaminated soil.) Gardening also encourages individuals to get outside, be more active, get more exercise and engage more in their physical surroundings. Community gardening encourages active engagement and cooperation with neighbors, strengthening bonds with those who live in your immediate area through mutually beneficial activity.

In addition to these immediate improvements to quality of life, I also believe that urban agriculture has the potential to reshape the priorities of societies. As we live today, we are detached from our systems of production, from our communities and from our physical needs. These series of detachments appear to have major impact on our personal health, both mental and physical. A steep rise in stress and obesity disorders specific to western society are two excellent examples of the downsides to our sedentary nature. Disengagement from the role corporations play in putting food on the table is also an issue that needs to be addressed, but is so deeply a part of cultural hegemonic values that it is nearly invisible. Urban agriculture creates more engaged, active individuals whose desire to participate could address all these problems and more.

Which all leads nicely into Locavorism!
Locavorism is, to put it simply, eating locally. The hundred mile diet is a good example of this.

Reasons to eat locally include:
-cutting down on carbon emissions by buying food that hasn't been shipped from somewhere far away, or been shipped for processing
-better awareness of where your food is coming from, and what it has gone through to get to you
-this often means making the choice to go organic, or simply to avoid food contamination scares that come with big-factory processing
-supporting local economies, and having less of what you pay go into the pockets of middlemen
-supporting family farms, who often (not always, but often) have better practices than factory farms
-making producers accountable for how they behave, how they treat food, and what impact they have on communities

Urban agriculture, by definition, is locavoristic. You produce the food that you eat, locally. In some cases, food produced locally is sold to nearby towns- this benefits local economies, and is far better than the transport for processing and distribution often exercised by factory farms.

(I just want to note that, despite my criticism, I don't think large farms and farm businesses should be eliminated. They play an important role in our food systems. I do however think that diversity in our food systems is more balanced, stable and secure both on a basic food security level and on an economic level.)

If I could, with ease, choose to become a pure locavore, I probably would. It's cheaper, fresher, more accountable produce that would be good for my conscience. The reality however is that it's very difficult to know where your food comes from. Packaging requirements allow food that is packaged in Canada to say "Canada" on the label, even if the food itself has come from say South America. Good ways to eat more locally include buying from farmers markets when they're open, and of course, engaging in Urban Agriculture.

Freeganism is the practice of eating for free. Historically, it's based in gleaning, the practice of allowing less fortunate people (or anyone really) to gather leftover produce from fields after harvesting has taken place. I've actually been seeing some articles about farms in the states returning to this practice, which is thrilling. Waste not want not:)

As it applies in an urban setting- freeganism means scavenging in dumpsters, getting food from businesses that throw things out at the end of the day, and sometimes getting friends who are employees to collect food that would otherwise be discarded. Businesses like Safeway and IGA throw away a disgraceful amount of food daily, which they destroy and put in locked dumpsters. They do this, they say, to protect themselves legally- but it is likely also to protect themselves financially. While there is nothing wrong with a business protecting itself and its stockholders, this practice of creating an enormous discarded surplus clearly represents a major flaw in food distribution systems, and is utterly horrifying in the face of struggling food banks and poverty in our cities. Smaller, local businesses are more accountable in the sense that they can often be convinced to donate the food they discard to food banks and shelters. Larger companies like Safeway chalk it up to company policy, and are therefore harder to penetrate. This is not to say that they are evil- I have heard of these companies changing their minds in some places. It all comes down to communities being aware, and taking action to hold these businesses accountable for their impact.

Health benefits of eating locally are related to better awareness and accountability in your food systems. Smaller farms and businesses have a smaller customer base, so they are more likely to take good care of those customers. They are also more likely to be community members themselves, so they have a stake in how their business impacts the people and environment around them. This makes them far less likely to engage in destructive practices- like farming that destroys the soil, pesticides and chemicals, poor waste disposal, destruction of communities, local resources.. the list goes on and on.

9. Why do you believe North American society has become so departed from local eating?

That's a pretty enormous question. There are quite a few factors that have directly contributed to our new-found distance from our food production systems, convenience likely being the most important. It is becoming less and less convenient to eat locally. Large corporations, like Safeway, buy food from wherever they can access it least expensively. In many cases, this means that it's cheaper to ship it across the country. This can be done in very exploitative ways, with a high impact on energy resources. In recent times, there has also been a move towards factory farms, which are more economically efficient if you have the capital to start one. The downsides of these farms (as I mentioned) is that they often have enormous environmental impact, questionable treatment of animals and they undermine smaller operations. These smaller operations tend to return more money to the local economy, "spreading the wealth around" better than larger companies, where more of the money travels up the pyramid.

I don't want to describe this as a black and white issue- it's far from it. Corporations are not evil, they just exist to make money. Small business is not saintly. Again, I think it's important for us to rely on many different businesses for our food, in order to support everyone in our society in a balanced manner. That said- buying local and organic whenever you can puts pressure on those companies, be they large or small, that are not adhering to standards of food production that, ideally, would be universal.

For a very basic view on the dangers of factory farming, check out The Meatrix:

10. Where do you see agriculture and eating habits going in the future?

It seems as though people are becoming more aware of food issues lately, as they go hand in hand with the economic downturn and the push for more sustainable living. I believe that community supported agriculture and urban agriculture will gain a great deal of momentum in the coming years, as food shortages make their way into Canada and the United States. In Calgary and Vancouver, I have been seeing more attention and interest in growing food and finding local produce. Times of scarcity can push people apart or pull them together. My internal optimist is ever hopeful that these coming years will help us change our ways for the better.

About my class project:

Did you dinner go well?
Yes, it went surprisingly well. Everyone at the table WAS told ahead of time where the food they were eating had come from. 17 out of 20 people ate.

Was it a surprise/ experiment to see whether or not people could tell the difference?
Not really- it was more of a statement about food standards, waste, and our connection to where our food comes from. It was about urban gleaning.

Where did you get the food?
There were various sources. Organic dumpsters heading for compost and businesses that give away things they intend to throw out were some of the places. I also told a couple major companies that I needed some waste food for a sculpture project, and was able to access their room full of waste bins, "as long as it's not going to be eaten." Yes, that was rascal-like behavior, but I wanted to know more about how much food we waste, and what gets done with it.

Did you have to prepare it all?
Yes. I cooked it all in my tiny apartment kitchen, with the help of my partner Zack. It took a long time.

It was a fully vegetarian meal. The full cost came to less than 5 dollars, for things like cooking oil, eggs and spices. We made salads, an eggplant and tomato dish, potatoes, and a few others that have since slipped my mind. We drank water and sat around a fancy set table, with reusable dishes and cups. It was served formally by a few of my friends dressed as waiters.

I would be interested in performing the piece again in different places. If you, or someone you know is interested, feel free to drop me a line.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Legalizing urban chickens

I've been so excited about the recent enthusiasm for trying to get the keeping of chickens legalized. It's a great idea, the benefits of which would be enormous for those of us interested in producing our own food sustainably. All the hubbub began with an article Angela posted on her blog. After that, there was an article in ffwd, which probably should have referenced her.

There has been talk recently about orchestrating the movement - writing letters, getting the support of local businesses, which seems like an excellent direction to take it. Here is the email sent by ravis, which outlines an excellent step-by-step plan we could use.

Hi All,

I have just recently come back to Calgary and have been following this
thread as I am also interested in getting chooks in the future. Why
don't we take a slightly different approach to gaining support from
the alder people? We should leave the Guerilla method in our back
pocket and definitely whip it out if needed, but only if they are
wearing leather outfits and spike collars like Lindsay suggested.

To gain the support of the aldermen/women we need to build support in
a similar fashion to that of a pyramid. These alderpeople have
nothing to gain right now by agreeing to allowing chickens into our
neighbourhoods. We should start getting letters of support from non
profit groups like clean calgary, sympathetic CEO's, and local
businesses. This will take time as we need to get a lot of them.
Then as far as the petition goes we should focus on areas of the city
where we know a lot of people would get into urban chook farming.
Luckily we have large numbers of ethnic people who may very well have
had chooks in their home country and may want to have them here. I
bet you that there are 70,000 people that go in and out of T n T
market on a Saturday and Sunday for food. My point is if we start to
haggle the aldermen without getting support from a number of different
sources he is going to push the issue aside and focus his attention on
things that "matter" like arresting cats that are peeing in your
garden. Lets start a list of people in high up places that would
support this. We can also get a petition going in parallel. In
addition we need to write a letter on good management practises for
keeping chickens. We don't want anyone to think that sanitary
conditions are going to be compromised by keeping chooks. To test
this best management practise we get Lindsay set up with some Guerilla
chickens, doesn't monsanto already make these??:)

Here is the start of support list.

Natalie Odd, Clean Calgary
Lindsay Ross
Provincial Green, Liberal and NDP candidates
I will write a letter as
Calgary Garden Path
All of the other community gardens
Hip businesses on 17th and in Ingelwood
Rivas Ecostore
Green builders
YEP Calgary
Green drinks
Landscaping centres??
Home Depot (they might sell chicken coops)
Rona (dido)
Pet stores( they will sell the chicks)

This looks like a great way to get started.

For those of you interested in getting involved, comment here. Join the facebook group, or send letters to your MPs! Let us know what you think about meeting up and getting started!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Calgary Garden Path talk

More emails to pass on:
I will be giving a short presentation on Sunday night at 5:00 pm @ Sunday Night at Calgary Garden Path, about how to justify the 67 dollar tomato and why it is important to persevere with urban ag and small scale permaculture projects. I will be discussing peak oil, climate change and food security and the real costs of food that are hidden from everyday life.

Hope to see you there.

Rob Avis

Friday, September 26, 2008

Garden Rescue!

Hi everyone! I received this email this morning, and thought I would pass it on to you:
A garden is being rescued, rejuvenated and transformed into a community garden at the Calgary Alternative High School. Are you interested or available to help on either of two upcoming work days Friday October 3 and Saturday October 4? Please see the attached poster.

Could you please share this email with other people that might be interested in helping a garden in early October with work that will enable it to become an active garden in 2009...

Thank you so much for your help on this!

Gael Blackhall
Community Garden Resource Network
403-287-3469 ext 227

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Garden Events!

Hello volunteers (and soon to be volunteers when you see how beautifully the garden is growing!)
There are some events and workshops coming up for the garden that we would like to make you aware of, some really cool stuff including Yoga in the Garden, Eat Your Whole Garden, Fall Festival, and more (see calendar attached) and info below.....

In addition to these events I would like to call out once more for volunteers.

Harvesting: We need help harvesting for charity. It is the BEST time!
On harvest days you can help gather 50lbs of Fresh Produce to donate to:
The Sheriff King Home, Salvation Army, The Alex, and Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids.
Harvest times:
Every Wednesday 5pm-dusk
Every Sunday 9:30am-2pm

email to let us know when you will be coming to help: Linda-

Autumn Garden Gnomes Needed:
No experience necessary. Great way to learn about edible plants, harvesting, planting seeds for winter crops etc.
The Garden takes extra care and preparation in the fall, ensuring an early frost doesn't damage the crops we've taken such good care of.
As well there is the focus on getting ready for a new season, saving seeds, cleaning up plants that are finished producing, composting.
We can use your help:
Every Tuesday 4pm-7pm
Every Thursday 10am-1pm
email to let us know when you will be coming to help: Linda-

With an Exciting
Fall Festival planned for Sept. 13th we are asking your help in preparing for it.
We can use your help on the Pre Festival Crew
Sunday, September 7, 12-2pm and/or
Tuesday, September 9, 6-8pm
Location: Garden (or Blackfoot Diner if it is raining)
Tasks: Making signs for Fall Festival, Garden Cleanup, and more.
Please email Linda:

More soon about the Fall Festival. Stay tuned

More news and Events:

All of the plants are thanking all of you who helped for taking care of them this summer. When harvest time comes they will be ready to nourish many people with all of the nutrients they need, vitamins,minerals, friendly bacteria. If you would like to share in this bounty, harvest shares are nearly bought up, but we may be able to squeak a few more members in.

with Jasmyn Steinke
Thursday Sept 4, 6:30-7:30pm (see calendar attached)
Limit 15 people.
RSVP Please.
By Donation
BYOYG: Bring your own yoga gear :)

There are
so many new foods we can experience by having access to fresh food from a local garden.
Nothing beats cutting up fresh basil for a homemade pasta, sprinkling edible flowers on a potato salad,
picking a bean off its beanstalk and popping it into your mouth. The FRESHEST OF FRESH! Many people
don't realize there are more edible foods in the garden, including some of our weeds, flowers,
and the plant stalks or leaves of some of our standard vegetables.
Learn more about how to.....................
Workshop Sept. 7, 3-5pm. (see calendar attached)
By donation. RSVP and questions:
email Linda-

Friday, July 18, 2008

Urban Chickens; Composting Workshop

There are two items of business today. The first is an article that appeared in Ffwd this week titled "Chicks in the City." You can read the article here. It's a piece about the movement to repeal the law against owning chickens in Calgary. Woo!

Also, check out The City Chicken.

I also recieved this general invite on Facebook from Lindsay of Calgary Social Change, and thought I would pass it along to you folks. For more details, or to register, drop her a line @ (403) 230-1443 ext 225 or by email at

Master Composter Course: 20 Hour Certification Course

Learn home composting techniques from trained Clean Calgary Association Master Composters and become one yourself! No experience necessary; just a willingness to learn. After completing the course, you will receive certification as a Master Composter.

Cost: $200 or $75 plus a 25 hour time commitment to volunteer, some subsidies available. Next start date: Tuesday, Sept 23rd, 2008 at 6:30pm. (6 consecutive Tuesday nights, except for Tues. Oct 7th. 2.5 hours per night. Includes two optional field trips.)

End date: Tuesday Nov. 4th. Saturday Nov. 8th, 2008 is an optional field trip and graduation lunch.

Location: Westwinds Superstore community room (Upstairs at the Superstore). The address is 3633 Westwinds Dr. NE. Registration Please register by Friday September 19th, 2008. Refunds will be provided to those who withdraw before 5pm Sept. 19th, 2008.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Last minute, but...

Sorry for the slow moves on my part everyone, I've been busy dropping off the map this week. Gael posted this message on my last blog, and I thought I should get it up and publicized, because some may not read the comments. So here it is:
There's a new community garden at a Calgary Housing location that needs help finishing up the garden planting for this season. The work to be done is to plant shrubs and native plants around the community garden, plant a small medicine wheel garden and make trellises for beans to climb up in the vegetable garden. We are looking to do the work July 7 to 12 sometime between 9 am and 4 pm.

If you can help please email Gael at
Thanks big time!
Community Garden Resource Network

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 23rd Meetup: News

Another successful Meetup completed- thanks to everyone who made it out! We're happy to have such continued interest. It will allow us to keep doing what we've intended with these meetups: to inform people about projects going on in their city (and especially their own communities) and encourage them to get involved in order to support urban agriculture in Calgary.

A great idea came out of this week's meeting- we're hoping to hold future meetings at local community gardens, so that we can have a short work period afterwards. This will allow us to support projects, get people directly involved, and get our hands dirty. Woo!

If you're involved in a community garden that would like to host one of our meetings, please feel free to contact me or Grant, by posting a comment here or on our facebook group.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Next Meetup: June 23rd

We've finally managed to book space for the second Calgary Urban Agriculture Meetup! It will be held on Monday June 23rd, at the Eau Claire Market Community Meeting Space from 7 till 9 pm. If you have trouble finding us, please ask at the info desk in the middle of the mall.

Information and updates will be presented about ongoing projects, and there will be an opportunity to present project ideas. This meetup is essentially an opportunity for Calgarians interested in urban agriculture to link up for information sharing and collaborations.

Projects this may include:
• Community Gardens
• Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
• Food Not Lawns
• Food Security
• Guerrilla Gardening
• 100 Mile Diet
• 100 Meter Diet
• Permaculture
• Pesticide-free
• Rooftop Gardens
• Urban Livestock
• Urban Wetlands
• etc.

For more information, we can be found on facebook.

Please bring information about projects, your enthusiasm, and a few friends!

Monday, June 16, 2008

To those of you lurking in the shadows of the internet:

So, here I am, sitting in front of a computer and trying to write something for a blog. Worse, the only thing I can think of doing is pulling that age old trick of writing about myself writing...

As such, I'm going to do something oh-so-novel and write about you reading this blog. Ha!

What are you doing here? I'll start by assuming that you are here because you're interested in making Calgary a better place through learning everything you can about urban agriculture and then going out and growing vegetables on every surface that you can find. Unfortunately, you don't really know how to go about planting and caring for a lasting garden, and so by silently stalking the internet you're hoping to learn enough to make a bountiful and lasting garden the first time you try. I mean, what's the point of planting things if they aren't going to grow into something right away?

I know what it's like, I still feel the same way myself, but perhaps the internet isn't the best place to learn how to garden... I'm going to step up and suggest that each one of you go out and volunteer with the next work party you have a chance to participate in. Just go and spend time in a garden with a bunch of gardeners and pick up what you can from them. If you can make yourself helpful at the same time then great! But even if you only show your face and meet some people with similar interests you'll have benefited.
You know what? I'll make you a deal, I'll do the same thing. As soon as I get back to Calgary next week, I'll put the same expectation on myself, and then I'll report back to you with what I learnt. Just remember, I expect the same from you. :)

Although... now that I think about it... I'm not sure where I'll go to find out about upcoming work parties...
Maybe if there's a blog somewhere on the internet that's keeping track of Urban Agriculture events in Calgary I can follow a link or two and find something...
Tell me if you find a site like that ok? You can just leave a comment with the link.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What is this if it’s not an organization?

There seems to be some thinking that this “Calgary Urban Agriculture” might form into a new organization. To be clear, the intent that Rachel and I had in calling the first meetup was to avoid that — there are already plenty of groups and organizations in the city.

From a recent discussion about this:
We are here as a space to link and network people and projects. We are focused on supporting projects, education and dialogue to foster the broad range of things that can make up urban agriculture.
If we have a ‘mandate’ it’s to get people connected on these issues. There is no formal membership, no central hub, no rules for participation, no one is ‘in’ or ‘out’. We just want to get the work done so that there can be a much healthier urban environment and greater food security for everyone.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Green Roofing: Symposuim at the Zoo!

An artist's rendition of the hanging gardens of Bablyon.

A green roof is a roof which is covered in vegetation, planted over a waterproofing sheet to prevent damage. This practice has many benefits, including improved passive heating and cooling, production of (often organic) fruits and vegetables, and increasing the lifespan of the roof by reducing its exposure to the elements. you can read more about it in the wiki, here.

On June 9th- 11th, there will be a symposium on green roofs in Calgary hosted by the Calgary Ecoroof Initiative, the Calgary Zoo and other local partners. Its goal will be to promote the green roof industry in Calgary, as well as to display existing green roofs. Check it out: Prairie Green Roof Conference and Tour

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Connecting Urban Agriculturalists in Calgary

My apologies for the delays getting everybody hooked in following last week’s meet — I’ve had an overwhelmingly busy week.

There’s now an email list/group for these projects in Calgary: Calgary Urban Agriculture group. Please feel free to join up and share your Calgary-area projects for urban agriculture. I encourage everyone to join this group — it is intended to be our main communication tool to make sure everyone is in the loop (since not everyone will keep up with the blog, and not everyone is on Facebook).

If you want to connect more, there are also some relevant groups on Facebook:
Urban Agriculture Calgary
Calgary Food Security
Calgary Guerrilla Gardeners
And on Meetup:
Calgary Community Gardens Meetup

And a wiki-page for urban agriculture on the Canadian Activism Archives.

First Steps

On news outside the city, I've come across this pleasing little introductory guide on 50 Ways to help the planet. While it is in no way an exhaustive guide, it does serve another purpose.

Returning to Calgary from Vancouver was a strong reminder that introducing green practices and policies within the existing societal structures will be a challenge in some places. I feel very positive about the steps many of you are taking. I was inspired by those of you especially who have integrated green considerations into your lifestyles. This guide is excellent because it is a set of very easy first steps that we can use to introduce our friends and neighbors to the mindset of a lower impact life. Check it out.

Via: Treehugger, 50 Ways to Help the Planet

Amping up Urban Agriculture: Chickens!

It was amazing to see such a strong response to the Urban Agriculture Meetup at Eau Claire last week, as it is to see those of you who are keeping up the good work by pursuing your own personal goals. By picking a specific personal project and sticking to it, we can gain a lot of momentum for the movement.

A great example of persistence on a very specific personal goal can be found Here. Mammacomic, who you may all remember as "the chicken lady," has been doing a ton of excellent work to change the bylaw which prohibits keeping hens within city limits. The letter template she has up is excellent, and I hear speak about a petition that's in the works.

Via: MAMMACOMIC: urban chickens calgary - aldermen

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meetup: May Twenty-Sixth

The meetup this Monday went swimmingly, thanks to everyone who came out to Eau Claire Market. More than 40 people of the agro persuasion came down to talk shop- everything from Guerrilla gardening to urban chicken farming was discussed. Can I get a go team?

There will be more updates shortly, with information from the meeting on how you can get involved, including events and opportunities. I'm also looking for a few contributors to this blog from the Calgary community, so if you're interested please drop me a line.

K folks, keep it green!