Urban Farms Are Feeding Calgary

Freshly picked assorted vegetables ready to be brought inside and washed. Photo by Lexa Chambers.

Urban farming is a bright part of Calgary’s future, according to several new businesses and non-profits in town.

With news of food deserts in downtown Calgary and access to healthy food options becoming more important, there is a market for new techniques to fill the void.

Deepwater Farms is one of those pioneering companies using sustainable techniques to grow fresh lettuce and seafood in Calgary’s south east.

They were the first hydroponic operation in the city when they opened in 2018.

Providing People with Fresh Food

Paul Shumlich, one of the company’s founders, said it’s all about efficiency and keeping up with the best ways to provide people with fresh food.

“We now have robots doing all of our seeding and harvesting, which used to be a labour-intensive process,” Shumlich told the Alberta Vulture.

Their system is symbiotic, and they are able to grow fresh greens year-round.

Grow Calgary, a non-profit organization, is another group growing fresh food within the city limits.

Since 2013, everything they have harvested has been donated to local charities, and they have lobbied the city to relax bylaws around urban farms.

The organization is run by 30,000 volunteers, and provides not only fresh food, but education on sustainable urban farming.

Due to construction of the ring road, Grow Calgary has relocated from their plot of land on the west edge of the city, to the south end.

Future of Grow Calgary Uncertain

At this time, the future of Grow Calgary is uncertain because the non-profit and the new UCP government have hit an impasse over who will pay for the farm’s relocation.

Freshly picked beets in Calgary. Photo by Lexa Chambers.

Another urban farm project in the city’s south east broke ground this summer, and is a partnership between the Compost Council of Canada and the City of Calgary.

This initiative is an effort to provide fresh food and rejuvenate the soil in unused land in the city.

“This city has lots of vacant land that’s not doing anything, so let’s put it to use,” said Mike Dorian, one of the project’s urban farmers.

Calgary bylaw is also looking at revising some of the rules that can stifle urban farms, like a ban on livestock within the city.

Those decisions are still forthcoming, but local urban farmers are not deterred.

Shumlich thinks it’s inevitable that farming will evolve.

“People need fresh food and there will always be new ways to do that.”

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