Monday, February 22, 2010

Calgary Food Summit & FoodNYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System

Read more!

Calgary Food Summit & FoodNYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System

The Calgary Food Summit arrived at many of the same policy positions as the NYC Food & Climate Summit. With substantially greater resources, they authored this compelling document. Here are the NYC outcomes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Calgary: Life 101: The Birds & the Bees

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The Birds & The Bees

Calgary Herald, "Urban farmers fight to keep animals in city: Backyard passion at odds with bylaws"

Back to basics and reprioritizing seem to be common themes these days for people all over the world. Here in Calgary, Urban chickens and bees are in the news. The act of raising and growing in an urban environment involves issues closely linked with local food systems, food security, urban agriculture and human rights. Those who are embracing urban agriculture have considerable support through international and national laws & declarations to pursue the act of growing food free of persecution and reprisal. Urban farming is not illegal and urban farmers are not outlaws. The act of growing and raising food in an urban setting is not criminal. Urban Agriculture is lawful.

Seasons Come & Seasons Go...

The season and reason to align our city's bylaws with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms is here. I am suggesting that the current position taken by the City of Calgary, puts us on a collision course with the UN Declaration of Human Rights & the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Is the City of Calgary going to play chicken with these global & domestic citizenship/governance-defining documents? It certainly does not have to be this way if my position on a Right to Food as it relates to a specific Calgary Municipal bylaw is considered.

*Full disclosure: I am currently charged with "Possessing and Keeping Livestock". My first court appearance is on 25March10 and the first challenge of the Corporation of the City of Calgary Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw by Mary March is on 01April10, April Fools Day.

The basis of my position on why urban agriculture is, and will continue to be, enthusiastically welcomed in Calgary is founded in my deep belief that Calgarians are passionate & compasionate people. We care deeply about the health and well being of our families and the health of our community. Calgarians are proud of their involvement in initiatives that strengthen community and create recreational, cultural, educational, economic & social development opportunities for all. The primary fuel that fires all of our passion is food. Sustainable passion that allows for each of us to pursue our vision requires healthy & nutritious food. We are what we eat.

Article 25 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights identifies food as a human right. Canada has ratified in Canadian Parliament the UN Declaration of Human Rights and other international human right treaties 7 times. We are governed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Constitution. The rights and responsibilities of the provinces are bestowed upon them through the Canadian Constitution. Each province bestows governance powers to municipalities via the Alberta Municipal Government Act. Bylaws are created by municipalities to establish local governance patterns. The following from Wikipedia:

"Municipal bylaws are public regulatory laws which apply in a certain area. The main difference between a bylaw and a law passed by an international/national/federal or regional/state body is that a bylaw is a made by a non-sovereign body, which derives its authority from another governing body, and can only be made on a limited range of matters. A local council or municipal government gets its power to pass laws through a law of the national or regional government which specifies what things the town or city may regulate through bylaws."

Municipal bylaws must align themselves with the laws, policies, agreements, et al that are sanctioned by the bodies from which municipal governance powers are derived.

Based on the above interpretation, our laws are very clear about the scope of municipal governance and the right to food is not an area under municipal jurisdiction. The actions of the City of Calgary vis-à-vis urban agriculture are unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The city must cease and desist from the act of issuing violations for the raising of livestock for the purposes of household food security/sovereignty and move quickly to amend bylaws which are in stark contravention of provincial, national & international charters, laws and declarations.

Paul Hughes

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

HENvironmentalist: Finally, CLUCK President officially charged with Keeping Livestock

Read more! HENvironmentalist:
Finally, CLUCK President officially charged with Keeping Livestock in Calgary.

Paul Hughes receives official City of Calgary Violation Ticket on Wednesday, 10Feb2010 from Animal & Bylaw Services Community Officer, Jordan King.

Link to CLUCK: Calgary Liberated Urban Chicken Club

Link to The Right to Food Is A Basic Human Right, UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paving Paradise: The CFPC in the Media: Backyard Gardens vs Asphalt Jungle

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Paving Paradise: The CFPC in the Media: Backyard Gardens vs Paving Paradise

The Metro

“I think we should be promoting green spaces and arable areas instead of focusing on aesthetics. I think we need to have more garages under houses than in the backyards,” Hughes said.

The Calgary Sun

Paul Hughes, chair of the CFPC, said proposed amendments to the document that guides city development could be the death knell for backyard gardens and green spaces if it’s approved.

Paving paradise is exactly what we’re doing here — we’re turning our backs on our heritage and people being able to make decisions with their own properties,” he said.

“The city is so focused on how things look from the front that everything else is ignored.”

Seems some members of #YYCCC Calgary City Council would like to eliminate options for homeowners to choose where and how they build their garages (with their money), even if it is at the expense of backyard family gardens. There is very little creativity coming from admin or council on this issue. Seems Paving Paradise is their solution. Calgarians know better.

The CFPC position on urban land use is not an exclusive focus, except where applicable, such as the redevelopment of individual lots for another single residence. The current implementation of Calgary Land Use Policy vis~a~vis Development/Redevelopment does not consider the option of assigned growing spaces (within 500m) to allow for a dovetailing of Household Food Security & Increased Urban Density.

Regardless of our dreams for increased densities, Calgarians continue to purchase single family older homes with the intention of building a new single family home. Only this time, the home is to have a rear detached garage, usually built on top of the space where the backyard garden exists. Certainly it is more than a Food vs Car issue and the CFPC recognizes this. We are attempting to assert the argument that, in cases such as redevelopment, priority consideration should be given to maintaining arable green space, not parking space. The benefits of less asphalt, more intact green space, more neighbours and decreased construction costs factor into our position as well.

Encouragingly, some subdivision developers are attempting to eliminate backlanes. There are options for garage space other than backlane, detached garages and some developers are introducing alternative construction choices. One option supported by the CFPC focuses on a garage design that is incorporated into the home's footprint, essentially locating the garage underneath part of the home.

Ironically, proponents of vibrant front streets want to transfer more energy and interaction to the back lane. The New Urbanism Curb Appeal chant does not recognize many of the factors that actually encourage active & dynamic streets. Relegating certain elements of daily life to backlanes defaults to a defacto class system. By hiding certain 'undesirable' aspects of urban life in backlanes, we create an ideal environment for other activities, just ask the CPS how convenient backlanes are for crime. The backlane-double garage combo divides neighbours like a 21st century Urban Hadrian's Wall. It is a reach to consider backlanes/garages as positive elements of vibrant communities.

Again, the CFPC prioritizes expanding/increasing collaborative local urban agriculture/food security initiatives. Clearly we'll choose parking our vehicles on the street (they must be that wide for a reason), waving, greeting, talking to our neighbours out front and talking to all of our neighbours while cultivating our backyard gardens if the other option is a policy that continues to pave paradise.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Calgary Food Policy Council Minutes: 20Jan10@ Calgary Water Centre

Read more! Calgary Food Policy Council:
20 January 2010, Water Centre 7pm.

32 attendees, 7:11 commencement

We began with a round table of introductions, each person stating their interest and motivation to see a sustainable food model. The backgrounds were diverse, yet the inspiration was common. After the basic introductions, several individuals representing more developed interests spoke of their current efforts toward more sustainable food models. The evening dispersed by 9pm, and I made an attempt to make into point form what are very large and respectable ideas. Do forgive me for mis-spellings, and I invite you to send in corrections as you see the as I will become more accurate with greater familiarity of the individuals and groups participating in Calgary’s Food Policy Council.

philipsarsons [at] hotmail [dot] com

Paul expressed his thanks to Susan & Nancy from city of Calgary for their presence here and for making the arrangements to use the Bow River room at the Water Centre.
Susan mentioned briefly that her group’s purpose is to reduce Calgary’s eco-footprint, launching a campaign regarding local food this spring, featuring and encouraging local markets, organics.
Nancy, from the Office of Sustainability gave her greeting, her office is directly inside City Manager’s Office being of note, coordinating Council’s mission for food sustainability. They are looking to respond to Council by June, to listen and observe and learn of the CFPC.

Brief round table introductions:
Tavis - community organizers, behing “Purple Revolution” - incubating change, growing community (Prov & Federal govt liason)
Nile: co-chair and sucession planning
Harlen: McKay’s Ice cream
Wade S: Infuse Catering, specializeing in local food “Local 101”
Justin: UofC student coordinator - mini farm project
Matt: food policy founder, education focus
Michelle M:
Al. info to follow on Iron Mills, Rocky View/County
Chromna: from S. Korea in small town famous for Greenhouses
Tony: Community Gardens, Chef. Community Liason for CFPC
Mary: concerned Mom, raises Chickens, CLUCK member
Sarah: (used to have chickens!) “Civic Camp,” Land Food Group Nov. 25 5-7 Eau Clair
Ursurla: CLUCK.
Walter: “YA” Youth petitions against cosmetic pesticides, 2500 youth, Clagary Youth Food Policy Council?
Rain: Local Witch, Herbalist & Massage, permaculture designer, Prema Sai Calgary
Mike: Gardener, City of Calgary - watersheds, Chicken interest
Justin: anti-GMO and chemical based food, micro-farm project
Tommy: Engineer, community interest, Civic Camp, Permaculture TUCs
Eliese: A.B.C
Adrian: Big Sky, education in permaculture design liason
Susan: Nutritionist Ab Health Services, Horticultural Society
Kathryn: Meals on Wheels, Olds College Alumni
Dee: Chef & Educator since 1983, poet, writer, SlowFood Calg.
Dana: UofC, Students Association
Myrla: Meals on Wheels, UofC environmental management, community gardens “FreeHand Consulting; Ecology”
Ron: Farm Boy gone Architect, City of Calgary
Shauna: cook and gardner, concerned citizen
Pamela: Nutrition Student.
Phil: spud.


Local 101, March 13, 2010
AB Agriculture support through Dino Program
“Vision 2020” - vision for local food system, asked of cooks & chefs
Feb 1rst meeting
wants to expand to education and health care
interested in defining a common direction, and creating a common use data base = blog

UofC, 240 acres, much undeveloped land, wants to launch a mini-farm to incorporate into the UofC expansion devleopments 1/4 acre pilot with hope and passion to expand; coordinated with campus community bike shop

Rocky View Urbanization (race track, shopping mall, meat packing plant)
Issue: Sewer pipe to reach these developemnts 200Million, Urbanizing a massive plot of farm land 16000acres
public input requested.
100% of the comments were oppossed.
The report on the public input said “several responded” and recommended the by-law be passed
Jan 26 people can speak in person, anticipates the by-law will be passed
Hearing is in the county office on 32nd Av by the bus barns for info = blog a

Community Gardens
year round applications
water accessibility - a primary issue
and funding
looking to develop a resource centre or information line to aid in CG development
values: trust, community, safety

Land-Food Group, Civic Camp
an organization form grassrots origin
people who want to start gardens or mini-farms, raising chickens, possible other animals, slow food
many angle operation, a hub for many groups

facilitating responsible beekeeping practices
education forums, guest speakers in Feb.
new website to arrive soon

permaculture liason
concepts strategies and materials to meet the needs of all living things
Food-forest: mimics a climate ecology of forests = high yield, effective water use
wishes to provide a permaculture lens
Calgary fallen fruit rescue Initiative: harvest unused fruit: 34 full size trees on board and growing, with a group of volunteers
food goes to volunteers, tree owners, and food needs groups
Residents can develop a portion of their yard unused for food
Permaculture Course: 2 day intro courses March 27-28 - to create a resiliant food economy, matching yields to needs, April presentation ahead(!)
large turnout to first meeting (planned 30, got 75)

march = National Nutrition Month, “Farm To Table”
Individual and Household Food Security focuses on Access to Food.
Awareness raising and data collection: Prevelence of food security, ability of household to afford food.
Costing of food and healthy diet. partner with poverty organizations See “cost of Eating in Alberta executive summary
Seniors and social support or winimum wage: finding household income is inadequate to meet the needs.
Encouraging advocacy with MLA’s and councillors.
Programs to link with: PaCT project, partnership with low income housing/affordable housing. Developed a community garden and developed a ‘kids kitchen.’
food access concerns: the food dollar is very limited. Food is the only maleble part of the budget. Also, time resources under two jobs for example.
pilot project: clinic sites within Alberta Health services, focusing on food security and nutrition
poverty and income relief

Paul: Google list to post links related to food policy

Meals on Wheels
feeds seniors; started in Calgary by local women concerned about hospital discharges who needed support, delivering meals to 8 clients by 2 women; 1900 meals per day now(!); service chronic illnesses, health concerns, near the end of their lives and want to live at home; a practical visual safety check for people; 44 year history, never missed a delivery date. 75 volunteers blanket the city in two hours; bag lunches to the working homeless at the DIC; collaborates with many charities; meals are hot; children helped create the menu; allows for annonimity and integrity for children; helps to maintina independence (magic meals delivered once per week)
current challenge: building size and condition; equipemnt issues and layout - intended for 1000 meals per day... expansion needs; City of Calgary = landlord. Capital Campaign is afoot, purhcase of new building has been made.
expansign demographics = increased need.

John Marr’s motion: admin was asked for reommendation, admin came back with ‘this isn’t our mandate’ Wheels continues to request being put on the council agenda.

Slow Food
commitemnt to Local
an international group
100000 members
grassroots movement to preserve tradition methods of growing, preserving and consuming
The Presidia, 300 methods of growing food important to culture
Educaiton component.
The pleasure an doh of food and promotion of thriving local economy, defense of biodiversity, food & food cultures
the commodity mindset is unwelcome ie: not “product” but someone’s “supper”
not interested in facroty farm, monoculture gmo, desertificaiton, biofuel, long distance food, seed patents ... Monsanto
farmers leaving the farm, fast food, that food is only fuel
Vandana Shiva = Vice President
sovergn access to food culturally appropriate to us
monthly meetings
“bring food to these meetings!”
value and meaning of food - intrinsic value, grounding aspect of food (ie: “we’re all Carbon”)
re-assured by community gardens comign allong

slowfood reading list
does not endorse businesses
has a list of local growers - posted on sfc website

teaches how to CAN!!!
seed saturday = purchasing and swapping of heirloom seeds

john dutton theatre, Calgary public library = film screenings
fEb 8th - kitchen party - Kris Vestor - goat chees & milk

UofC - Urban Calgary Studensts Assoc.
Fall of 2008
Community tours - examples of Urbanism (Garrison Woods)
Paul = inagural speaker
planet open house: to inform students
used mac hall = opportunity for FPC to reach students

decreased foot print for house and garage, and in so doing can make for gardening space (deep rich soil)
800 sq ft of land can produce up to $3000 of food. an aninuity of 33k can only provide a payback of 1k.

Commulatively, this adds up to a tremendous amount of land and income generating potential.

read up on the blog

tomorrow: Transitions Towns - a movement for renewable energy and ideas.
between 2-5pm Calgary Area Outdoor Council.
Umbrella Structure

“Vital conversations”
calgary foundation focusing on “sustainable cities”
register on Calgary foundation website
at john dutton theatre

Micheal Schmit Case on Raw Milk comes down tomorrow. is following it closely = chritina Lake BC raw milk dairy Karen & Curtis

Deconstructing Dinner at

now a member of te north american food policy council
lobbying to council
nov 30th notice of motion
deliverable by june

purpose: to bring yoru “crop-o-ganda” to the table to be heard and feasted upon(!)
little money, lots of energy

local food is at a crux,

the above issues to be put forward to a city council

goals: liaison position to make effective
there is no blueprint for a food policy council: each one is unique to the area/region
beginning to get traction
an open invitation to all food initiative within the food system

the conversation has just begun!
post ideas on teh google list 24/7


Friday, February 5, 2010

Paving Paradise

Read more! Paving Paradise

Calgary City Council @ the Combined Meeting of Council 2010-02-08 will be considering

This is the Calgary Food Policy Council's position on Household Food Production, Backyard Gardens, Neighbours, Vibrant Streets VS Detached Garages, Rear Garages, Backlanes, Alleys & Rear Lane.

As Calgary City Council meets on Monday, 08Feb1o to discuss Land Use vis-à-vis Infill Housing Policy, the Calgary Food Policy Council supports the high priority protection of backyards for time-honoured urban agriculture and traditional backyard household food cultivation (which in Calgary dates back to the 1800’s).

The Calgary FPC looks at the potential elimination of front driveways as a strike against the backyard garden. Some of the most fertile soil in our country is in our backyards. The prospect of redevelopment plans having to incorporate detached garages on top of these gardens is not an option the Calgary FPC supports. In addition, new developments forced to create backlanes and rear garages essentially requires citizens to 'Pave Paradise'. Other considerations are: division/separation of neighbours (from 5 down to 2), poorly maintained backlanes and additional municipal costs (including paving, snow removal) and anti-social activity (crime via obstructed rear vision from homes).

This Calgary FPC blog post, also highlights some of the fundamental issues to be considered:

Household Food Production, Backyard Gardens, Neighbours, Vibrant Streets VS Detached Garages/Back Lanes


Paul Hughes, Chair of the Calgary Food Policy Council today stated:

"Under current Land Use Bylaw and Infill Housing Policies, inner city communities are becoming bereft of traditional backyard gardens.”

1. City ordinances now require that vehicular access to parking and garages be located off of back alleys, in space where people were once able to grow their own food.

"We advocate an increase in urban agriculture, which is local and home grown fruits and vegetables. Back lanes, alleys & detached garages are destroying 1000’s of acres of fertile land in Calgary. We're paving paradise,”
adds Hughes.

This is in direct contradiction of the City's Triple Bottom Line requirements; a policy that requires the Social, Economic and Environmental impacts of regulations be evaluated prior to implementation. Back lanes & garages also challenge many of the assumptions in Plan It and is a flawed policy that values aesthetics over function.

“A backyard garden can easily produce over $1,000 of healthy, high quality food every year, in perpetuity and tax free. A family would require nearly $35,000 in a bank annuity to generate that income to buy the same food from a store. Why would the City of Calgary deny people the opportunity to grow their own food by insisting that double garages fill up our back yards?" Hughes asked.

2. The alley garage policy is an environmental disaster, economically foolhardy and socially counterproductive. Traditionally, citizens living in inner city communities have always had the choice of front or rear access, but no longer. Today, we are getting long, uninterrupted rows of alley garages that eliminate the possibility of natural surveillance of anti-social activity and urban agricultural opportunities. Allowing over/under garages reduces construction costs and environmental impact significantly. Over/under garages dovetail nicely with maintaining curb appeal.

Once considered assets, homeowners with front access & backyards are being forced to remove their driveways when they redevelop their property and destroy gardens.
"We advocate the freedom to choose and express one's lifestyle in the design of a home,” he said. "It's the same principal behind the freedom to express your opinion in a public forum, without the interference of government."

3. Clearly, this issue is divisive if attitudes become entrenched in ideology. The path forward is directly linked to Council Priorities, democratic principles, Land Use Policy and historical/heritage/traditional uses.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A.B.C Level One Beekeeping Course

Read more! Click poster to enlarge...

A.B.C Level One Beekeeping Course

March 6 and 7th, 2010

A.B.C is proud to offer its first Level One Beekeeping Course!

This course will integrate all aspects of beekeeping to the new beekeeper. With a focus on beekeeping in the urban environment, this course will offer the following skill development:

Establishing a beeyard
Plants, crops, and pollination
Tools of the trade. What do you need to keep bees?
Safety practices and neighbor friendly beekeeping
Responsible hive management/ Beehive politics
Disease and Non-disease disorders
Honey production
This course has been designed for beginner small scale hobby beekeepers by Patty Milligan: Patty has worked as a small scale apiarist for 11 years and lives in Bon Accord, Alberta. She has spent many years working as an educator for agri-tourism in Edmonton. Co-teaching with Medhat Nasr, Alberta provincial apiculturalist, for the Government of Alberta's Bee-ginners course for the last couple of years, Patty has gained an incredible reputation as facilitator and educator. Patty is passionate for new beekeepers and the public about responsible and creative methods of beekeeping. Seeing urban apiculture growing in popularity, Patty has developed a unique course for A.B.C.

On-line registration will be available February 2, 2010.

A.B.C is only accepting 30 spots for this first course, so be sure to sign up asap. The course will be held at

Any questions or comments contact at eliese [at] backyardbees [dot] ca

Eliese Watson
Founder- A.B.C

The Raw Food Verdict, Seedy Saturday in Calgary & Dine Alberta Event @ Wild Rose Brewery

Read more! Judge Finds Raw Dairy Farmer Michael Schmidt's Cow Boarding Program is Within the Law

How Schmidt's Strong Stand Should Inform our Activism on Food "Safety" Bill

The Constitutional Right to our Own Body and the Food of our Choice

Max Kane on Schmidt Verdict, Our Constitutional Rights to Our Own Bodies

2010 Calgary Seedy Saturday
2010 Calgary Seedy Saturday
What: Informational Meeting
Start Time: 20 March at 10:00
End Time: 20 March at 16:00
Where: 5003 16 Ave NW, Calgary, AB

To see more details and RSVP, follow this link.

Dine Alberta
Good turnout of Calgary & Area Foodies at the Dine Alberta event at Wild Rose Brewery.
Many Chefs, Producers and a group I would identify as aspiring and involved.
Mini roundtable discussions focused on a variety of topics that impact local food producers/chefs and topics that have implications for the population as a whole. Capably hosted by Wade Sirios, dee Hobsbawn-Smith & Marlene Abrams. Wild Rose Brewery catered the event with their exceptional beer as the perfect complement to the discussion.
Contacts and a final report of the day is being prepared by Marlene. There were many ideas, so it may take a few weeks to fully 'digest'.

If you are a chef or producer, don't miss the next Dine Alberta event...