Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hi everyone,

As many of you may already know, the reason that I'm able to devote time to initiatives like Calgary Urban Agriculture and the "Rachel Grows Project" from last May, is because I have been supported by a scholarship from the Millennium Foundation. This means that instead of a full time job, I'm lucky enough to work with different volunteer and community initiatives.

This year, the foundation is closing its doors. It has been running for 15 years, and is at the end of its funding. All the scholarship recipients will receive the remainder of their funding. However, the Foundation will no longer be able to provide the programming it used to which kept all of us laureates in touch with each other, offering support and knowledge for the wide variety of programs we are interested in.

It has been an inspiration to me to see some of the laureates coming forward to bear the torch- we have organized and planned, and have been able to set forward a plan for the new Millennium Network. The Millennium Network will continue the programming (as best we are able,) for years to come. Part of what we're doing to put together an initial investment is competing in the Aviva Community Fund Competition, for a potential $50,000 worth of funding. We've already made it to the semi-finals, with over 4000 votes over 2 weeks. Aside from the competition, we have already raised nearly $10,000 nationally. Winning this competition would give us a level of stability that most startup not-for-profits don't see for years.

So- this is something of a solicitation for help. We're not looking for donations, just for a few minutes. If you could sign up (just an email address and name) at to vote on the competition, I would really appreciate it. The last round was really down to the wire, so every vote we can get counts. Whether having your help means a few votes, or a vote once a day, or forwarding this message to all of your friends and asking them to vote as well, I'll be really happy for any help at all. If you're interested in a daily reminder to vote throughout the competition, please feel free to let me know.

Thanks so much for all of your support and friendship. It means a lot that I have a community to look to for support.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

South Calgary Community: Fall Harvest Potluck!

Just got this email today:

Everyone in the community is welcome:
gardeners and volunteers, families, friends, and neighbours, and those interested in gardening with us next season.

Bring your favourite dish - share your company and meet others in the community. Talk about gardening or find out more about communtity gardening for the 2010 season. There will also be a wine bar.

Sunday, November 15th
6pm to 9pm

South Calgary Community Centre Lower Hall
3130 16th Street SW

RSVP would be extremely nice but is not essential.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A reminder from Gael

You Are Invited! A reminder for...

"Cheating the Calgary Climate: An Evening with Lyndon Penner on how to
extend the food growing season"

Sunday November 1, 2009 7:00-9:00PM
Unitarian Church of Calgary, 1703 1st Street NW
*See Attached Poster For Details*
Admission is free
Dessert and beverages provided
Families Welcome
Bring your Friends

Reservations urged by e-mail to

What's happening in the off season?

It seems that things with CUA always start to slow down this time of year. It's always very appropriate, as the winter rolls in and we work a bit more, we seem to lose touch with the gardening community.

Veronika made an interesting comment on the google group recently. She expressed an interest in greenhouses, with the idea of extending the growing year. Here are her comments:

"I think we need to look at creating year round greenhouses in which we can grow mass veggies and fruits within the city. We should try and see if we can start looking for space and advocating for this within Calgary. Maybe even a muli-level green house, green space for families to come and help grow their food year round and just hang out in."

This seems like a really timely idea. I'd love to hear if there is more support for this within the community. I would be happy to start doing some research if there were more people wanting to get involved.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


A note from Paul:

The Calgary Food Policy Council & Big Rock present The Calgary Food Summit on World Food Day, 16Oct09

The Calgary Food Policy Council is hosting the groundbreaking Calgary Food Summit (CFS) on World Food Day, October 16th, 2009. The CFS is an inclusive opportunity for all those actively involved and working towards improving our local & regional food system.

The objective of the CFS, the first ever event of this type for Calgary, is to discuss progressive policy that will create and build an enhanced food security, food justice, food efficiency, urban ag, community garden & sustainable ag landscape in Calgary.

As we often conduct our affairs independent of other local initiatives, bringing all the participants in our food systems together is an ideal way for our communities to celebrate World Food Day. The timing for local convergence's is fantastic, being on the heels of an amazing summer, harvest & the unparalleled growth, awareness and development of the sustainable food movement in North America.

If you are interested in attending or volunteering, please contact Paul Hughes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Looks important

An email I just received from Kirti Bhadresa, via Tavis:
(I edited it down a bit for brevity.)

Hi everyone,

Some of you may know Kris Vestor of Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm, and may already know about this event.  Kris is an amazing local farmer and individual who has been a strong advocate for local healthy food for a long time (among other things that he gets involved in as an activist). 

His farm was hit by a recent storm and most of his crops and buildings were destroyed.  Arusha, along with The Coup and Sunnyside Market, are putting together this fundraiser for Kris.  The bands are great - and it'll be a super fun night.  The event info is attached.

Also, Dave Robinson is looking for volunteers (so you'd get in for free)!  If you could volunteer, please email him at

And Tara may still be looking for donations for a silent auction.  Her email is if you have any items to donate.

See you there next Friday!  It'd be great if you could also pass the word around.
Kirti Bhadresa, Calgary Dollars Coordinator

Friday, August 28, 2009

A message from Gael of the Community Garden Resource Network

Thrive: Calgary's Community Economic Development Network
Join your voluntary sector, business and government colleagues with an interest in promoting community in Calgary because community economic development helps to create sustainable cities!

You are invited to join The Garden Path Society of Calgary as they share how they contribute to community well-being and sustainability through community gardening. Enjoy a locally-grown, after work snack from the garden as we learn about how the Garden Path Society contributes to CED practice by:

- Operating the Urban Garden Cooperative, which provides Calgarians a place to grow and harvest their own vegetables. Profilts from the u-pick are reinvested back into the Society

- Operating Cornucopia, which distributes the garden's abundant harvest to Calgary-based charities.

- Providing a welcoming way for community members to reduce their environmental footprint through local, organic gardening.

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Time: 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Location: Garden Path Society of Inglewood
2297 17 Street SE
(Behind the Colonel Walker School Yard)

Please RSVP by Friday September 4

For more information please contact:
Brenna Atnikov

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CJSW Features Gurrilla Gardening!

Urban Agriculture has gotten loads of attention this summer from all the media outlets in Calgary, thanks to the efforts of everyone involved in community gardening and guerrilla gardening this summer. Today, CJSW posted this feature with video clips from our very own city! Thanks to Cody for sending to the CUA google group.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Natural lawns gaining support

A legal battle in Ottawa has advanced the cause of moving away from traditional water- and chemical-intensive lawns toward more sustainable approaches.

Some recently found items of interest

With all the recent attention given to the push for legalizing chickens in the city, This Magazine’s recent article may be of interest: “Be an urban chicken farmer in 5 easy steps

Square foot gardening” presents an approach to growing food that can really simplify things — making gardening much more approachable for people new to it, or just too busy to deal with more complicated setups. The CBC has a useful story on this approach: Another take on urban gardening.

The Eat Well Guide is an online database of local, sustainable and organic food sources (farmers, shops, community gardens, restaurants, organizations, etc.) for Canada and the U.S. They don’t have any listings for Calgary, yet, but you can add listings. Another spot to promote our local resources.

Citizens Market “is a non-profit user-generated website for ethical consumption.”

Saturday, July 4, 2009

SPIN Farming — urban backyards for commercial organic farming

SPIN Farming is a business and growing model that converts multiple residential backyards into a commercial organic farm. Benefits include local food production (100-mile diet type stuff), organic growing, energy consumption reduction, community economic development, and neighbourhood quality of life improvements.

REAP Calgary has an article on SPIN Farming.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Who controls the seeds?

One of Phil Howard's information graphics

Control and development of seeds is a critical issue in agriculture. Philip H. Howard at Michigan State University has produced some very telling information graphics that help illustrate the dangerous control of the seed industry. Particularly troubling is the dominance of chemical companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Syngent and Dow. Please take a moment to have a look at this scary reality.

Thanks to The New Resilient for their Twitter post about this.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Green Roofs in Canada

CTV has published a story on green roofs in Canada.

What would it take to get a change to Calgary’s land-use by-laws, and the provincial building code, to strongly encourage — if not require — that new building roofs incorporate green roofs and/or solar or wind power collection?

The article mentions, a site dedicated to the field. They have a couple videos up. Here’s a short one promoting the idea of living roofs:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Free Composting Workshop! (thanks Grant!)

The City of Calgary offers a free composting workshop:

Learn how your lawn, garden and city can benefit from your kitchen
scraps while discovering all the do's and don'ts of successful
composting. Join a Master Composter volunteer from Clean Calgary
Association for suggestions and resources on getting started, what to
do and equipment required.

Saturday, May 30, 2009, 10:30 a.m. - noon
at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
Sunday, June 28, 2009, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

More info here!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Toronto passes green roof by-law

Yesterday, Toronto’s city council passed a “By-law to Require and Govern the Construction of Green Roofs in Toronto”. I wonder what it would take to get Calgary to follow suit?

Mayor's Letter

A couple days ago, I asked people to send a letter to the Mayor, requesting that he make a point of meeting the the CFPC.

Scott and Vi have both let me know that they have sent letters, and I know that Paul has sent a few. I'd like to reiterate the importance of this issue, and ask again that letters be sent. Please feel free to personalize the email I sent and to email it to

You can read it here.


From the Cornucopia garden:

"Hello fellow Cornucopians!

There is still more planting to do in the garden.
We will be in the garden the following times this weekend:

Saturday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. - noon, followed by a potluck (Please bring something to
share, enough for about 10 people, although there may be more than

Please also mark your calendars for a Cornucopia meeting on June 6th -
more information to come on this very very soon.

We are looking forward to seeing you in the garden!

Your friends at the Cornucopia community garden

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Growing Food for the First Time Part 2: Raising Fruit and Herbs in Calgary

Wednesday June 3, 2009
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Scarboro Community Hall
1727 - 14 Avenue SW
Parking is free, transit is nearby and there is wheelchair access.

Join master gardener and organic market gardener, Elaine Rude, to learn
how to grow organic herbs and fruit in Calgary.

Elaine has extensive experience with hardy varieties of fruit trees, berry
bushes, herbs, native plants, water-wise food gardening and high-yield
intensive planting methods.

This workshop is designed for community gardeners new to growing
fruit and herbs and covers garden preparation, soil amending, getting the
most from your garden and individual fruit and herb varieties that thrive
in Calgary.

A suggested donation of $5 is requested for this educational workshop.
Light refreshments will be provided.

RSVP by Monday June 1, 2009 to or
403-287-3469 ext 227.

In the event that you are not able to attend, please cancel your
reservation to accommodate gardeners on the waiting list.

This workshop is made possible by the Community Garden Resource Network (a
project supported by The Calgary Horticultural Society, The Calgary
Foundation and Evergreen).

A letter to the Mayor's office

Hi guys-
I just got an email via the google group. It sounds like Mayor Bronconnier has not been able to meet with the CFPC yet, which is unfortunate. The role the CFPC has to play in developing food security in Calgary is vital - and can only be achieved in collaboration with city hall.

I've sent an email to the Mayor's office, urging him to meet with the CFPC. I would appreciate very much if everyone here could take the time to do the same. The email address is themayor[at] I know that you all have busy schedules, but I also believe strongly that the 15 minute time investment is very worthwhile. Here is the message I sent- you are absolutely welcome to simply enclose it in your email with a few words of support, if that is what best fits your schedule.

I would like to emphasize the importance of working with city hall on these issues- I know that there are sometimes differences of opinion, but the best way to find middle ground is to work together and talk it over.

Dear Mayor Bronconnier,

I would first like to congratulate you. It most satisfying to see the City of Calgary taking its first steps to ensure greater food security on behalf of its citizens. Calgary, having been a "have" province for many years now, is in a unique position to set an example as a City that is not afraid of change. There is great economic and societal benefit to taking advantage of the "green" movement, and using it to strengthen our community.

It recently came to my attention that you have been unable to meet with the Calgary Food Policy Council, a volunteer group which represents the growing interest in Calgary for a stronger foundation of food security. In the past year, the interest in urban agriculture and local food systems has grown. You must be aware of the activity- as the City of Calgary recently approved four new community gardens. We all saw this as an encouraging sign that your office has taken an interest in the longevity of our communities and the stability of our food supply.

I would like to add my voice to what is sure to be a chorus as this movement continues to grow. Food security is important to the people of Calgary. The mayors of Toronto and Vancouver meet with their Food Policy Councils on a regular basis, because the development of a plan for greater health, wellness and security is integral to their roles. It would be most reassuring to see that you feel the same way.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.

Rachel Simpson
Student, and concerned citizen

I have not been especially involved in the work of the CFPC, but I do think that their organization is important, and I support the work they do. Once again, you can send your email to themayor[at],


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Greening the Desert

Given the potential for loss of the Bow River due to the accelerated melting of the primary glacier that feeds it, and given the aridness of our land area, being able to address growing in desert territory may eventually become relevant locally.

Regardless, the process for transforming desert to garden shown in this video is fascinating:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cedarbrae Community Gardens

This weekend, we'll also be going out to help out at Cedarbrae community gardens.

I hear speak of free food...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cornucopia Updates!

From Jacqueline:
Our season has begun at Cornucopia. We are allowing anyone in Calgary to come Grow Your Own Food at 2297 17th Street SE (behind Colonel Walker School). More information can be found at, or they can contact me personally.

Right now we have times set up for everyone to be in the garden together growing food. These are Saturdays and Sundays 9:30am-3:00pm. No previous experience is necessary, this is a 1/2 acre of land ready for planting by those interested in growing their own food. We focus on communal sharing of food, ideas, education, resources and land. Communal projects require people to take their own initiative in adding ideas, work and organization. This coming weekend will be the time to start planting and many hands make light work. I will be there this weekend if anyone has questions, but all that is needed is to show up!

Those of us already involved would love to see new faces and new ideas. Leadership is shared, like the food, we need people to show that working together does work!

Monday, May 4, 2009

National Geographic Green Effect Competition

National Geographic is holding a competition for the greenest idea for someone's city. The winner, who submits and idea for greening their city, will win 20000 dollars to do it! Very exciting stuff. Any ideas?

Brentwood community garden!

Those lovely folkins in Brentwood are starting a community garden! If you live in Brentwood and would like to come to their first meeting, send an email with your name, your phone number, your email address and your home address to

Vegetable gardening workshop

I just received this updates from the Calgary Community Gardens Meetup Group. Thanks cody!

What: Growing Food for the First Time: An Introduction to Organic Vegetable Gardening
When: Monday May 11, 2009 - 6 pm to 9 pm
Price: CAD5.00 per person (suggested donation)

Join master gardener and organic market gardener, Elaine Rude, to learn how to grow vegetables successfully in Calgary. Elaine has extensive experience with hardy varieties of vegetables, native plants, water-wise food gardening and high-yield intensive vegetable planting methods.

This workshop is designed for community gardeners new to growing vegetables and covers garden preparation, soil amending, getting the most from your garden and individual vegetable varieties that thrive in Calgary.

A suggested donation of $5 is requested for this educational workshop. Light refreshments will be provided.

RSVP by Thursday May 7, 2009 to or 403-287-3469 ext 227.

Unfortunately, this venue is not wheelchair accessible.
More info.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vertical farming skyscrapers

A video about designing skyscrapers as vertical farms.

Cedarbrae Community Gardens

The city recently announced the approval of 4 new gardens (a small but promising step forward.) One of those gardens is in Cedarbrae, and they'll be constructing their beds from the 8th to the 10th. I'm thinking that we should organize a field trip out to give them a hand. (I'll facebook that notion:)) They also have a blog up:

It's short notice, but I just heard about this event, happening today:

"We will be celebrating Earth day and introducing the new Community Garden at the Cedarbrae Community Center from 12-3 pm on April 25th, 2009. We will have water wise displays, brochures and general information for maintaining your house, lawn and garden during the hot summer months."

So go out and see the space, and get pumped for a season of community gardening!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Herald Article

I was really excited to see this article, about the need for more community gardens in Calgary. It's amazing to see so much interest develop so quickly.

I think that one of the things that needs focusing on is making these newly developing gardens socially sustainable- that is, we want to make sure that they become lasting hubs for community development and engagement. It would be fantastic to organize a group field trip to one of the gardens to give them a hand getting started.

Does anyone know anyone involved in these gardens? Could we make a trip out to one?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Event: LOCAL 101 - Eating Food You Know, From People You Know

Just got this message from Grant, and wanted to share!


LOCAL 101 - Eating Food You Know, From People You Know
an afternoon of presentations on local food and agriculture featuring
local farmers and cooks
this event is for everyone who eats!

Saturday, March 28th at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Center - Social Hall
Doors Open 1:00PM, Event Begins 1:30PM
featuring a cash bar and samples of food from local farmers and producers sponsored by Slow Food Calgary, Forage, and SAIT Hospitality and Tourism

$15 Advance Tickets available from Forage
In Person (cash, debit, Visa, Mastercard)
Over the Phone (between 10AM and 7PM), (403)269-6551 (Mastercard, Visa) and we’ll have a Ticket Pick Up Table at the event
Tickets are also available at Sunnyside Grocery until Friday, March 27th

$20 Tickets at the door are CASH ONLY $10 Students

The Agenda:
1:00 PM Doors Open
1:30 PM Welcome and Introduction
Wade Sirois – Forage and Infuse Catering
Food You Know

1:45 PM Alberta Products and Availabilities
Jennifer Cockrall-King – Edible Prairie Journal and Food Writer
what are our local products and when are they available

2:00 PM Where to Find Local Products
Dee Hobsbawn-Smith
farmer’s markets, at the farm, retail, CSAs, etc.

2:15 PM What Does It Cost?
Mark Klaudt – Route 40 Soup Company
a frank look at the costs associated with agriculture on a small and sustainable level, regulators, certifications, marketing boards, processing, restaurants

2:30 PM The Importance of Bees
Cherie Andrews – Chinook Honey and Chinook Arch Meadery
a holistic look at the importance of bees and issues like CCD and GMO
crop contamination

2:45 PM Break
bottled water, tap water, fruit, veggies offered
From People You Know

3:00 PM The Experience From the Kitchen
Wade Sirois – Forage and Infuse Catering
a cook’s viewpoint on working with local products in the home kitchen and the professional kitchen

3:15 PM The Experience From the Farm
Kris Vester – Blue Mountain Bio-Dynamic Farm: a farmer’s viewpoint on providing local products

3:30 PM The Future of Farming in Alberta
Peter Haase – Buffalo Horn Ranch
the opportunities and challenges for the future, succession, regulations, land use, young farmers, seed)

3:45 PM Who is Your Food From?
introduction to the local farmers/producers/cooks in attendance who will come across the stage and introduce themselves

4:00 PM Question and Answer Period
moderated by Tony Marshall – Highwood Crossing

4:20 PM Closing Comments
Tony Marshall – Highwood Crossing

4:30 PM Mix and Mingle
cash bar with Wild Rose Velvet Fog Beer, Chinook Arch Mead, Kayben Farm Black Currant Ginger punch, Okanagan wines
sampling of local foods presented by Slow Food Calgary, SAIT Hospitality and Tourism, Forage
5:40 PM Bar Closes
6:00 PM Event Complete

This looks like it will be a fabulous event, and I wish I were in town to attend!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Group Calls for Urban Chickens"

Metro Calgary published a story today about the push to legalize chickens in Calgary. Unfortunately, they confused a few of the details (I'm not involved in CLUCK- as much as I would love to be associated with the work they're doing,) but it is really great to see media starting to pick up on specific issues related to urban agriculture. Thanks Jennifer!

Here's the story, written by Jennifer Hillicker:
If you can’t afford to buy fresh meat in today’s economy, one Calgary group has a solution — raise it at home.

The Calgary Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK) wants city council to update the Calgary Municipal Code in order to permit the responsible raising of backyard chickens.

“The major benefit of backyard chickens is food security,” said Rachel Simpson, who is involved with CLUCK through Calgary Urban Agriculture. “It’s pretty key, especially in Calgary right now. Calgary is a little bit lacking as far as how much food we get locally and how much food people grow themselves. The idea of growing your own food develops a pride in your community.”

The group is petitioning city council to follow in Vancouver’s footsteps, which approved bylaws to legalize the keeping of urban hens on March 5.

They say benefits include the fact that chickens produce a rich fertilizer by-product, they eat table scraps, reducing municipal organic waste, and they produce fresh, healthy eggs.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baby steps...

It's very exciting to note that the city of Calgary has approved 6 new community gardens on parks land, and has put together a process for communities who want to apply for garden space. There is a long way to go in making Calgary a more liveable city with a strong foundation of food security, but this is a huge step in the right direction.

Check out the application here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Workshops workshops workshops!

Just a quick update to let you know what kinds of exciting workshops are available to all of you in the next little while.

First off, Seedy Saturday is coming up on March 21st, so get ready for an exciting event! Admission is only $2, and there will be a variety of Free workshops for attendees. It will be held at the Montgomery community centre. Here's what they have to say:
"This family event will have displays by local seed savers, prairie seed companies, native plant collectors, conservation groups, community gardeners, organic growers; as well as, a seed exchange table, refreshments, presenters, entertainment, and a kids corner"

Integrated Pest Management and Seed Saving workshops will be held - and I believe a few more are being lined up... Anyone know details?

Check them out on facebook.

You can also attend the Calgary Horticultural Society's Garden Show for an amazing variety of workshops, clinics, consult-an-experts and more! There's a summary of what's happening on their website here.

We also have some interest in the composting workshop we'd like to host, but if there's anyone else who would like to be involved, please feel free to comment, or drop me a line.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Clean Calgary Workshops

Another quick note on workshops. There are a few run by Clean Calgary.

Composting, at $8 a person, is something I've heard a few people mention. If you're interested, as always, let me know. The Green Cleaning might also be popular. Also $8.

Last Meetup, Workshops and Meetup Promotion

Hi Everyone,
Midterms and projects are eating up my time at the moment, but I wanted to take a bit of time to get us all up to speed on what's happening.

The last meetup was apparently a success, I've heard that lots of you showed up to chat and share info. Hooray! It's always nice to hear that things can run smoothly without me around. Thanks to Grant for making that happen.

I've been hearing a bit of interest on the vermiculture workshop, if there are others who would like to be involved, we still need a couple more responses before I can book it. It's only $5/ person with our group discount, so it's a great opportunity. Drop me a line or leave me a comment if you'd like to be included.

I've also been getting comments that we should promote our meetups more widely, which I think is an excellent idea. I'm always open to suggestions, and I love it when people take initiative. Let me know if you have an idea, or would like to do something to promote the event.

That's all for now, folks!

Friday, January 9, 2009

CUA meetup, January!

Yet another CUA meetup is happening on Monday January 19th at 6:30 PM, in the community room at Eau Claire Market. I'm excited to say that while I won't be in Calgary, Grant has agreed to chair the meeting. Hooray! Thanks Grant!

Please chat about workshops you would like to have, and things you would like to learn. Pass these things on to me, and I'll try to make them happen.