Towers and Turnip: Commmunity Gardening in Calgary

Posted on July 2, 2009, a guest post by Shannon Curry

A few weeks ago I took part in a unique gardening project. Volunteers with the Calgary Food Policy Council (CFPC) and other individuals like myself met downtown on the corner of 6th Ave and 3rd Street SW and proceeded to plant a vegetable garden in the flower beds.

What would have been space for ornamental flowers instead became space for food: squash, carrots, lettuce, beets, beans and more. Once the seeds we planted grow into hearty produce the CFPC will take it to the food bank, so their patrons can enjoy fresh, local produce, produced right in the heart of the city.

 height=The project is a partnership between Downtown Calgary, the Calgary Food Policy Council, Sunnyside Home and Garden Centre, the City of Calgary and the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank. The Downtown Community Garden is hopefully a sign of more gardens to come in Calgary. Paul Hughes, Director of the CFPC would like to see 2,011 new gardens in Calgary by 2011. To some that sounds like an overly ambitious goal, but when you think that 2000 people is equivalent to 0.2% of Calgarians it doesn’t seem so unattainable.

Why are community gardens important?

Community gardens:

  • allow people control over some of their food supply, so they’re not at the mercy of inflating food prices
  • provide fresh food that’s good for you, and great physical activity
  • provide local food and eliminate the environmental costs associated with shipping and refrigerating food
  • re-connect us with our environment
  • promote social interactions and community connections
  • can turn an unsafe or unsightly abandoned lots into a beautiful plot of land

For more information on community gardens contact the Calgary Food Policy Council, the Calgary Horticultural Society, the City of Calgary, or join the Calgary Community Gardens Meet-Up Group.