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Calgary Food Action Plan

Calgary Food Action Plan

Food System Assessment and Action Plan

The City of Calgary Food Action Plan – Calgary Eats! builds on community-led efforts to create a healthy, equal and sustainable food system. Its goal is for every Calgarian to have access to local, healthy and environmentally friendly food.

What the Food Action Plan will do

  • Remove barriers and create opportunities to build a sustainable and resilient food system through planning and land use.
  • Support and promote local food growth through community gardens and urban agriculture.
  • Increase accessibility of healthy food for all Calgarians.
  • Prevent food waste through education.
  • Support community food programs.
  • Conduct research and build community partnerships.

All Calgarians will benefit

Local: Products made, baked, grown, processed and sold in Alberta compliment foods from other provinces and countries.

Accessible: All people always have physical and economic access to safe and nutritious food that meets dietary needs and preferences.

Secure: There’s a consistent supply of safe and nutritious food that’s not vulnerable to pressures such as high fuel prices and natural disasters.

Environmentally sustainable: Calgary’s food system helps protect our air, land and water by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, potable water use, and waste. It also maximizes land use and encourages healthy ecosystems.

Healthy: Food and beverages listed in Canada’s Food Guide​ are prepared and served in a way that supports national and provincial recommendations for sugar, sodium and fat.

Community Development: The food system supports economic opportunities in the community.

Current projects

Highfield Farm pilot program

Highfield Farm is located on 15-acres in the heart of an industrial community. The property was home to the Blackfoot Farmers’ Market until 2013, and remained vacant after the market closed. In partnership with the Compost Council of Canada, we are transforming this vacant property into a vibrant and productive urban farm through soil restoration, food production and community programming. The Highfield Farm urban agriculture project will produce locally-grown food, raise general awareness of urban agriculture, generate entrepreneurial opportunities, and strengthen our communities.

The site will feature organic vegetable plots, greenhouses, a community gathering space, forest trails and a food forest. Produce grown will be donated to community agencies and will also be for sale at the Highfield Farm vegetable stand located on the property.

In addition to soil restoration and conservation on the site, the farm team will begin planting vegetable plots and making compost through the spring and summer.​ Stay tuned for harvest information later in the summer.

For more information and volunteer opportunities, visit Highfieldfarm.ca.

Transit pop-up food markets

Since 2017 we’ve been operating Pop-up Food Markets (Farm Stands) at select C-train stations. This has given commuters an improved commuting experience and the opportunity to support local farmers by purchasing healthy, locally grown food choices. In 2020 the program expanded from C-train stations to new locations at community hubs. For more information on how to become a vendor, the pop-up food market schedule and vendors, please visit Calgary.ca/localfood.

Community food growing

Residential gardens

Household food production can range from growing herbs and small vegetables inside the house, to planting fruit and vegetables in the ground or in raised beds in front and back yards. Food production in your home can include vertical gardens, balcony gardens, rooftop gardens and greenhouses. A wealth of fresh vegetables can be grown in even the smallest garden plot or containers. The benefits of growing your own herbs and vegetables include:

  • Healthy, fresh produce for you and your family.
  • Reducing the environmental impact of food transport and storage.
  • Connection with nature and raising awareness of local food

Boulevard gardens

Boulevards are generally located between property lines, are City owned and are usually grass.

Although boulevards are owned by The City, it is the homeowner's responsibility to maintain the boulevard next to their property. Since most boulevards are grass, it may be possible to plant a garden, which the homeowner is responsible for creating and maintaining. In some cases, permission from The City is required.

Information about establishing a garden in the boulevard next to your property, and options for gardening and growing in the boulevard are provided in the  Residential Boulevard Garden Guidelines. Please review the rules before starting your project.

Starting a new indoor food production business

The Food Production use, as outlined in the Land Use Bylaw, accommodates indoor food production in the Industrial and Commercial districts. This use includes hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics, and aquaculture in buildings, structures, and freight containers.

Your existing indoor food production business may require permits and approvals. Review the Indoor food production and growth business guide to learn about requirements.

Starting a new indoor food production business

Before committing to a space for your business, it’s important to know if The City can approve your request to operate at the desired location. All businesses require land use approval, and a City-issued business licence. Businesses requiring a licence must obtain land use approval prior to a licence being issued.

Find out what you need to get started in the Indoor Food Production Business Guide.

Hydroponics

Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants in a solution of nutrient-rich water, rather than soil. Here is a list of permits and approvals to consider for hydroponics operation.

Development permit
Hydroponics is included under the Food Production use. Food production is permitted in most industrial districts and is a discretionary use in all commercial districts. A change of use may be required depending on your business location.

Please contact the Planning Services Centre for more information.

Building permit
A building permit is required for new structures and may be required for existing structures. Review information about the Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits.

Business licence
A Food Service- Premises business license may be required. Review how to start a business for more information.

Food handling permit - Alberta Health Services
If you are packaging your product, you will need a food handling permit.

Alberta Health Services Resources

Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks/aquariums) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Here is a list of permits and approvals to consider for aquaponics operation.

Development Permit
Aquaponics is included under the Food Production use. Food production is permitted in most industrial districts and is a discretionary use in commercial districts. A change of use may be required depending on your business location. Please contact the Planning Services Centre for more information.

Building Permit
A building permit is required for new structures and may be required for existing structures. Review information about the Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits.

Business License
A Food Service - Premises business license may be required. Review our information about how to start a business for more information.

Food handling permit - Alberta Health Services
If you are packaging your product, you will need a food handling permit.

Provincial Regulations
The production and marketing of freshwater fish in Alberta must comply with federal and provincial regulations. These regulations are designed to protect native fish species, provincial fish hatcheries and public water bodies. Only certain species of fish are eligible for fish farming.

A fish culture license is not required to grow fish for personal use, however a Fish Culture License is required to acquire, grow, breed, keep and sell live cultured fish. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry will conduct a facility inspection prior to licensing.

Importing fish
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) import permits are required to bring certain species of fish into Canada. For information and applications please review the federal government Import Permits and Conditions.

Alberta Health Services Resources

Aquaculture

Aquaculture refers to raising aquatic animals or cultivating aquatic plants in natural or controlled, marine or freshwater environments. Here is a list of permits and approvals to consider for aquaculture operation.

Development Permit 
Aquaculture can occur only in the industrial - general and industrial - heavy districts. A change of use may be required depending on your business location. Please contact the Planning Services Centre for more information.

Building Permit
A building permit is required for new structures and may be required for existing structures. Review information about the Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits.

Business License
A Food Service- Premises business license may be required. Review how to start a business for more information.

Food handling permit - Alberta Health Services
If you are packaging your product, you will need a food handling permit.

Provincial Regulations
The production and marketing of freshwater fish in Alberta must comply with federal and provincial regulations. These regulations are designed to protect native fish species, provincial fish hatcheries and public water bodies. Only certain species of fish are eligible for fish farming.

A fish culture license is not required to grow fish for personal use, however a Fish Culture License is required to acquire, grow, breed, keep and sell live cultured fish. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry will conduct a facility inspection prior to licensing.

Importing fish
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) import permits are required to bring certain species of fish into Canada. For information and applications please review the federal government Import Permits and Conditions.

 Alberta Health Services Resources

Aeroponics

Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium. Here is a list of permits and approvals to consider for aeroponics.

Development Permit
Aeroponics is included under the Food Production use. Food production is permitted in most industrial districts and is a discretionary use in all commercial districts. A change of use may be required depending on your business location. Please contact the Planning Services Centre for more information

Building Permit
A building permit is required for new structures and may be required for existing structures. Review information about the Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits

Business License
A Food Service- Premises business license may be required. Review how to start a business for more information.

Food handling permit - Alberta Health Services
If you are packaging your product, you will need a food handling permit.

Alberta Health Services Resources

Modular freight farms & converted sea-can farms

Location
Please note that permits are required for modular farms in parking lots, side yards, rooftops or inside existing warehouses.

The Alberta Building Code considers shipping containers to be buildings. Regardless of whether your unit is pre-manufactured or if you converted it yourself, it must meet the following requirements:

Units placed inside a warehouse require an interior partitioning Building Permit. Visit Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits for more information.

Business License
A Food Service- Premises business license may be required. Review how to start a business for more information.

Alberta Health Services Resources

Outdoor commercial food growing

Urban Agriculture is a land use activity where plants are grown outdoors for commercial purposes, on a vacant parcel, rooftop, or other area appropriate for landscaping. The plants are sold and consumed by someone other than the grower.

  • Urban Agriculture differs from the Extensive Agriculture land use in both the scale of operation and allowable land use districts.
  • We encourage food growers to use raised beds with clean soil and a permeable geotextile landscaping fabric that acts as a barrier against soil contamination.
  • The farmer is responsible for ensuring the soil is good quality and suitable for growing food.
  • Urban Agriculture does not include raising animals.
  • A stripping and grading permit is not required for Urban Agriculture activities.

Visit the Food production and growth business guide for more information.

Local food sales

We now provide local food producers an opportunity to operate a temporary outside food stand for selling produce on either the parcel where it was grown or on City-owned land with permission.

Local food sales

  • If you are interested in operating a pop-up food market on City-owned property, please fill out and submit the application form found on Calgary.ca/localfood.
  • Current sale locations include Calgary Transit LRT stations, some community associations and City-owned properties.
  • It is the farmers’ responsibility to obtain appropriate Food Handling Permits from Alberta Health Services.

Please contact Kristi.Peters@calgary.ca for information.

Farmers markets

Shopping at local farmers’ markets is a great way to support local food production. Find a farmers’ market in your area or shop online. A new online farmers market is now available through https://cultivatr.ca/​.

Need food?

For information on where to find emergency food, lower cost food, cooking programs and other community food programs, visit Inform Alberta.​

The City of Calgary has programs and services to help Calgarians through the pandemic spread of COVID-19 / Coronavirus. We also partner with many community organizations who offer support. We have compiled a list of resources for those who may need support in accessing food.

If you need support and resources, please reach out to 211​ via phone, text or online chat. A Community Resource Specialist can work with you to see what community resources and services are available and work to get you connected with support.​

Additional resources

Pop-up food markets

To help us provide more Calgarians with improved access to healthy, locally grown food options, we have been partnering with local growers to operate pop-up food markets. In 2020, the program has expanded from C-train stations to include new pop-up food markets at community hubs around Calgary.

To learn more about pop-up food markets and to view the market schedule, please visit Calgary.ca/localfood.

Contact

Building relationships between local farmers, processors, residents, community leaders, and other food system representatives is key in facilitating the resolution of food system issues and our success.

For questions or input, email Kristi.Peters@calgary.ca.