Saturday, June 27, 2009

National Geographic ::: The Global Food Crisis ::: The End of Plenty

Read more! National Geographic ::: The Global Food Crisis ::: The End of Plenty

It is the simplest, most natural of acts, akin to breathing and walking upright. We sit down at the dinner table, pick up a fork, and take a juicy bite, obliv­ious to the double helping of global ramifications on our plate. Our beef comes from Iowa, fed by Nebraska corn. Our grapes come from Chile, our bananas from Honduras, our olive oil from Sicily, our apple juice—not from Washington State but all the way from China. Modern society has relieved us of the burden of growing, harvesting, even preparing our daily bread, in exchange for the burden of simply paying for it. Only when prices rise do we take notice. And the consequences of our inattention are profound.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Court rules GE alfalfa can result in irreversible harm to crops

Read more! Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Court rules GE alfalfa can result in irreversible harm to crops

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the planting of GE alfalfa can cause potentially irreversible harm to organic and conventional crops. Monsanto’s petition to rehear was denied in full.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

American shoppers misled by greenwash, Congress told

Read more! American shoppers misled by greenwash, Congress told

98% of supposedly environmentally friendly products in US supermarkets make false or confusing claims, campaigners say

More than 98% of supposedly natural and environmentally friendly products on US supermarket shelves are making potentially false or misleading claims, Congress has been told. And 22% of products making green claims bear an environmental badge that has no inherent meaning, said Scot Case, of the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice.

The study of nearly 4,000 consumer products found "greenwashing" in nearly every product category – from a lack of verifiable information to outright lies.

2011 New Growing Spaces in Calgary by 2011

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vancouver City Hall Garden - 1 Calgary City Hall Garden - 0

Read more!
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson got his hands dirty planting wheat at the opening of the plots at city hall.

And the city is in good company -- both the White House and Buckingham Palace have recently started growing food in gardens on the state grounds.

Vancouver City Hall Garden

Back in Calgary, the mayor's response is to deny the existence of an urban agriculture movement in North America. He also includes a dig at the CFPC... "They are only a small group," states the Mayor. A small group with big ideas, the kind of ideas that grow community in an urban setting.

*Editor's note* 100% of Calgarians consume food products making us the largest group in Calgary...

Calgary Mayor's email address:

Write him... plant the seeds of change.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What is a CSA?

Read more!
What is a CSA?

What is a C.S.A?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a method whereby urban (and I suppose suburban) dwellers invest in a share of a local farm in exchange for the bounty of that farm during the harvest season. They have grown in popularity in recent years, and its not uncommon for certain CSA’s to sell out their available shares, and for farmers to not be able to meet the demand. This is all good news for several reasons.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Location change: CFPC Meeting... 09June09, Tuesday @ 7pm @ The Library of Knox United Church

Read more! Next CFPC Meeting... 09June09, Tuesday @ 1900-2030 @ The Library of Knox United Church
featuring Plan It Calgary & how it addresses Urban Ag issues.

Our sponsorship agreement to use the Living Room space was contingent on possibly being bumped by a paying customer. This is the case. The Living Room has offered the room for a future meeting.

Thank you to Ryan Slifka for making the booking at Knox United.

We'll be walking over to the Downtown Community Garden after the meeting for a quick tour.

Please forward any agenda submissions to

Humus & Hummer...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Intensive & Intelligent Urban Ag in Japan

Read more! Intensive and Intelligent: Urban Agriculture in Ogawa-Machi, Japan

By Katherine Kelly

I just returned from a trip to Japan with nine other farmers, food activists
and academics as part of a Japan-Kansas exchange looking at organic
agriculture and food movements. The goal of the exchange is to share
strategies for building a local organic food movement here and there.

We spent a week in the Saitama prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, visiting
organic and urban farms and food businesses; in June, a group of ten
Japanese visitors will come to Kansas, touring Lawrence area farms and
coming into Kansas City for the Urban Farms & Gardens Tour.

During the planning phase of the trip, I wondered if there would be enough
urban agriculture for my interests, since the descriptions of the farms on
our itinerary seemed mostly “rural.” On the first day though, as we left
the Tokyo airport by train, I realized that it was likely that all of the
agriculture we were going to see fit my definition of “urban.” (If you can
see homes and businesses while standing in your field, you are probably an
urban farmer.)

Looking out the train window, I saw that every bit of land that wasn’t a
mountain and that wasn’t developed was planted to vegetable and grain
crops. Rice paddies, wheat fields, and vegetable gardens and farms lined
the railroad tracks and could be seen interwoven with houses, apartment
buildings, and businesses. The fields were tiny--perhaps a quarter to half
an acre, sometimes there were multiple fields abutting each other,
vegetables next to rice paddies next to wheat fields next to the mountains.

The majority of our time was spent in Ogawa-Machi, a town of 30,000 which
felt more like an extension of Tokyo than the small rural town I had
expected. As we walked around the streets, I took picture after picture of
“urban” agriculture until I realized that what I had seen along the train
tracks held true here, too. At houses with no lawn (most of the city was
composed of what we would call townhomes) there would be pots of flowers or
vegetables or herbs. It wasn’t unusual to see the tiniest bit of ground
bordering a parking lot planted to potatoes, or the little triangles of land
formed by streets joining at an angle covered in bunching onions. Land
between apartment buildings had several hundred square feet of potatoes and
multiple long rows of onions and cabbages and garlic chives as well as other
vegetables. At the edges of town, butting up against the mountains, you
could see small trucks parked alongside fields, tractors working in the rice
paddies and individuals and families out working in their plots. It was
hard to tell what were commercial plots and what were home gardens;
everything was managed so intensively and so intelligently.

For part of the trip, we had home-stays at organic farms. I was privileged
to stay at the Frostpia Farm, an organic vegetable, rice, soybean, and wheat
farm. It was described as the grandparent of organic agriculture in that
area; for over 38 years, they have trained hundreds of apprentices and
helped give birth to some 30 other farms. Their vegetable production was at
the scale of KCCUA’s Community Farm, with perhaps 2 plus acres under
cultivation. In addition, they kept another three to four acres in rice,
wheat, and soybeans. Mountains enclosed the farm on two sides, the other
two sides butted up against small homes and city streets. Deliveries of
vegetables to buyers were quick, taking as little as ten minutes from farm
to grocery store and restaurant.

In the kitchens as well as on the streets, healthy vegetables were
everywhere. Many small stores and restaurants carried produce; in one
highly developed Tokyo neighborhood, we saw a "green grocer" driving around
a neighborhood selling fresh fruits and vegetables to people directly from
the truck. Each meal was dominated by vegetables; we guessed that most
people eat their “five-a-day” before breakfast is even over. Even the
prepared foods so widely available were composed primarily of vegetables.

Japan has one of the healthiest populations in the world, and you could see
it in the bodies and faces of children, adults, and seniors alike. Women in
Japan have the longest life expectancy in the world; girls born today are
expected to live to 86 years of age; boys to 79 years. The obesity rate
there is around 3% (here it is around 30%). The causes behind such good
national health are complex, attributable in no small part to the fact that
this is a nation of walkers and bikers; but healthy, plant-based eating and
the powerful daily connection to vegetable production are clearly central to
their healthier lifestyles.

The cities I saw offered me a vision of what food-productive urban spaces
might look like. The streets seemed friendlier and safer because of the
presence of so much green space; the modest and patient work of planting and
maintaining gardens somehow grounded the intense pace of living we saw. It
occurred to me that if natural or man-made disaster should strike, their
cities would be much better able to feed themselves; they have the know-how,
and the basic infrastructure. In the face of intense development and
population pressure in their cities, the Japanese have generally maintained
a commitment to small scale agriculture and food production as a social and
an economic good. The Ministry of Agriculture recently re-affirmed its
commitment to greater food self-sufficiency, and is backing that commitment
up with substantial financial and human resources.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighboring Property Values

Read more! The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighboring Property Values

Cities across the United States and Canada increasingly are debating the best way to use vacant infill lots. The community garden movement is one of the major contenders for the space, as are advocates for small public pocket parks and other green spaces. To allocate the land most efficiently and fairly, local governments need sound research about the value of such gardens and parks to their host communities.

At the same time, cities are looking for new ways of financing the development and maintenance of public garden and park space. Some have turned to tax increment financing to generate resources; others are introducing impact fees or special assessments to cover the costs of urban parks. In order to employ such financing mechanisms, both policy concerns and legal constraints require local governments to base their charges on sound data about the impacts green spaces have on the value of the neighboring properties that would be forced to bear the incidence of the tax or fee.

Despite the clear public policy need for such data, our knowledge about the impacts community gardens and other such spaces have on surrounding neighborhoods is quite limited. No studies have focused specifically on community gardens, and those that have examined the property value impacts of parks and other open space are cross-sectional studies inattentive to when the park opened, so that it is impossible to determine the direction of the causality of any property value differences found. The existing literature also has paid insufficient attention to qualitative differences among the parks studied and to differences in characteristics of the surrounding neighborhoods that might affect the parks' impacts.

Applying hedonic methods to a unique data set of all property sales in New York City over several decades, we compared the prices of properties within a given distance of community gardens to prices of comparable properties outside the designated ring, but still located in the same neighborhood. By examining whether and how this difference changed once a community garden was established, we account for any systematic differences between the sites used for community gardens and other land in the neighborhood, thus resolving questions about the direction of causality and helping to disentangle the specific effects of community gardens from other contemporaneous changes occurring across neighborhoods and properties in the city.

We find that the opening of a community garden has a statistically significant positive impact on residential properties within 1000 feet of the garden, and that the impact increases over time. We find that gardens have the greatest impact in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Higher quality gardens have the greatest positive impact. Finally, we find that the opening of a garden is associated with other changes in the neighborhood, such as increasing rates of homeownership, and thus may be serving as catalysts for economic redevelopment of the community.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Calgary Downtown Community Garden Launched!

Read more!
CBC TV story for the launch of the Downtown Community Garden...

also in Calgary Herald Wednesday page A11...
"It's a very cool concept,"said Heidi Lambie, a spokeswoman for Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank. "Having fresh produce is really important for our people, because it's healthier."

Metro Wednesday page 3
"We have unused space within city limits," said Paul Hughes, Chair of the Calgary Food Policy Council. "Time for a savvy city like Calgary to use this space wisely."

Calgary East Village Community Garden Launch

Calgary Food Policy Blog...

2011 New Growing Spaces in Calgary by 2011...

Calgary Food Policy Facebook Group....

Volunteers from the CFPC will also be tending the Calgary Downtown Community Garden... just the tip of the iceberg lettuce!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Herald Op Ed: Calgary should implement its own pesticide directive

Read more! This post from CivicCamp Calgary...

Thank you to Gideon Forman, ED of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, for supporting the phase out of pesticides used for non-essential or cosmetic purposes!

Robin McLeod
Coalition for a Healthy Calgary

Calgary should implement its own pesticide directive

On July, 15, 2008, Calgary city council directed staff to draft a bylaw banning non-essential pesticides and bring it to the Utilities and Environment Committee no later than October, 2009.

It seemed like a simple directive and following its passage the Herald reported that "city staff said what happens next is clear: a bylaw phasing out the use of pesticides will be brought forward in the fall of 2009."

But what staff once labelled clear they now label unclear. They now say the issue is mired in confusion and they are calling for a delay of the whole process until April, 2010.

We in the health community believe there is, in fact, no confusion here. Rather, "lack of clarity" is being used as an excuse to sideline the pesticide issue until the spring --pushing it into an election year during which aldermen will be reluctant to pass it. It's a clever strategy by anti-ban fanatics, but it doesn't leave the people of Calgary well-served.

Full story...Calgary should implement its own pesticide directive

Monday, June 1, 2009

Media Advisory: CFPC/2011 & Partners... Urban Ag Garden Launch Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @ 10:30am

Read more! Everyone is welcome to attend...

What: Urban Community Garden Pilot Project Launch

When: Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Where: West side Barclay Parade (3 Street SW)
between 5 Avenue and 6 Avenue

Media Advisory

Community Garden grows amidst office towers in Downtown Calgary

May 29, 2009 (Calgary Alberta) – Community gardens are not a new concept to Calgary and can be found in many residential communities. These gardens provide access to fresh produce and help with neighbourhood improvement by aiding in a sense of community. However, never have they been located in an urban environment surrounded by office towers and low residential density.

Downtown Calgary in partnership with the Calgary Food Policy Council, Sunnyside Home and Garden Centre, the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank and The City of Calgary are proud to announce the first Urban Community Garden in Calgary.

Two flower planters measuring 952 square feet on Barclay Parade were transformed into a community garden over the May long weekend. The fresh harvested herbs and vegetables will be donated to the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank. The gardens are planted and maintained completely by volunteers.

This project is designed to add vitality to the core, engage and give back to the community in a new and innovative way.

Please join us as we launch this great downtown initiative on National Hunger Awareness Day. Representatives from Downtown Calgary, the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank and the Calgary Food Policy Council will be available for interviews.

What: Urban Community Garden Pilot Project Launch

When: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where: West side Barclay Parade (3 Street SW)
between 5 Avenue and 6 Avenue