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Stage 3 outdoor water restrictions are in effect. Learn more about how City services are impacted and what you can do during this stage.

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Food System Assessment and Action Plan CalgaryEATS!

The City of Calgary Food Action Plan – Calgary Eats! Builds on community-led efforts to create a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system. 

The goal of the Food Action Plan is to provide spaces to grow and sell local food. Through this plan, Calgarians will have greater access to local food while supporting local and regional farms.

What the Food Action Plan will do


  • 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.

How all Calgarians will benefit


Local

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

Accessible

Accessible: Calgarians will have physical and economic access to safe and nutritious food.

Secure

Secure: Food is consistently available and not vulnerable to supply chain pressures. (I.e.: high fuel prices and natural disasters).

Sustainable

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

Healthy

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.

Development

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


Current projects


Farm stand program

With over 30 farm stands across Calgary, you can shop fresh local produce from a farmer close to home. Imagine sweet tomatoes, bunches of basil, or sun-kissed strawberries. Think of the culinary adventures—from zesty stir-fries to rainbow salads—that await your kitchen!

Visit Calgary.ca/localfood to find more information on farm stand schedules, meet the vendors, or apply to become a vendor or host.

Food waste

Often, good food goes to waste and ends up in the compost bin. Food waste can happen when we buy too much, cook too much, or don't store food correctly. We can make an impact by creating less waste.

Learn effective ways to avoid good food being thrown away.

Highfield Farm urban agriculture pilot project

Highfield Farm is located on 15-acres in the heart of the industrial community of Manchester. 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, the property has been transformed into a thriving urban farm.

The farm features:

  • organic vegetable plots
  • beekeeping
  • a greenhouse
  • community gathering space
  • forest trails and
  • a compost production centre.

Produce grown is donated to community agencies and sold at the Highfield Farm stand on property.

Visit Highfieldfarm.ca for more information and volunteer opportunities.

Indoor farming services and supports

The City of Calgary recognizes the importance of building a resilient food system through diverse sources of food. The City wants to make it easier for indoor farming companies to establish their operations in Calgary.

Indoor farming includes raising and producing fruits, vegetables, plants or other agricultural products for sale. It can include growing, raising, culturing or cultivating practices, and activities such as harvesting, storing, sorting, cleaning, processing and the preparation for sale of produce and agricultural products grown in the facility.

Urban beekeeping program

The City of Calgary provides regulation and licensing for urban beekeeping. This helps address issues and create solutions for bees, beekeepers and neighbours. This program was introduced in Spring 2022.

For more information and application requirements, please visit urban beekeeping and licensing.

Urban hen program

The urban livestock licensing program enables Calgarians to keep backyard hens. The program accepted 100 applicants under a pilot project in 2022. 

Learn more about the urban hen program and how to apply.

Learn more about livestock licensing.

New programs


Food Resilience Program Development

Ensuring a reliable, nutritious food supply for all Calgarians requires a strong food system. The food supply must be able to adapt to local and global challenges. Natural and non-natural disasters can have a direct impact the functionality of food systems. Climate change, high energy prices, increasing world population, and crisis events can disrupt the food system. Those communities with the most vulnerabilities are at the greatest risk.

The City will work with communities to develop and implement a Food Resilience Plan for Calgary. The purpose of the plan is to ensure Calgary has a well-functioning food system. A system where food is available, accessible (physically, economically) and acceptable for Calgarians. This includes before, during and after a disruptive event. The Food Resilience Plan will consider the full food system: production, processing, distribution, access, consumption and food waste recovery. It will also consider the hazards and vulnerabilities that could lead to a food system disruption. This project will focus on capturing data from communities that experience the greatest inequities.

Growing Spaces

An urban agriculture pilot program to support and expand the production of locally grown food.

The City is committed to building a local food system which provides equitable access to healthy food.

  • Growing Spaces will provide supports to Calgary‘s gardeners, farmers and businesses. 
  • Growing Spaces promotes environmental sustainability; and utilizes vacant space productively.

The initiative connects growers to vacant City-owned land and buildings. This initiative supports new farm “incubation” opportunities through short-term leases. Through partnership, the program ensures growers can produce food, flowers, fibre, and fuel in ways which are environmentally and socially responsible. Further, it educates Calgarians on opportunities to engage in building a stronger local food system.

Circular Food Economy Programs

A new series of Circular Food Economy Programs is now being offered by The City of Calgary along with community partners: Elements Society, Green Calgary, and the Calgary Horticultural Society. The programs are free and designed for all Calgarians.

Elements Society

Elements Society empowers youth to show environmental leadership at school, at home, and in the community. 

EcoCooks Program

Elements Society offers a science-based program that addresses how food choices impact the health of our planet through fun, hands-on activities

Elements Society logo

Learn more about the EcoCooks program and how schools can register.

Green Calgary

Established in 1978, Green Calgary is an environmental charity and voice for environmental action. They are dedicated to healthy homes, communities, and businesses. Green Calgary offers programs to support the adoption of practices addressing environmental issues.

Spill the Beans: Unpacking Your Food Waste

The Spill the Beans program offers free workshops to community groups and associations in Calgary. The program focuses on food waste reduction. Topics taught include shopping seasonally, locally produced food, meal planning, cooking, and preserving food.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought is a Calgary food resource which provides resources and self-guided learning. Topics include meal planning, residential unused fruit donations, seasonal produce, and gardening.

 

Green Calgary logo

Learn more about the Green Calgary, Spill the Beans, and Food for Thought.

Calgary Horticultural Society

For 115 years, the Calgary Horticultural Society has focused on education, empowerment, and connection for our growing and gardening community. One of their values is to lead in making Calgary a city of gardening excellence.  

Seed to Table Program

Seed to Table is a low input growing initiative which goes through each stage in a gardening journey. It provides educational talks and workshops about sustainable food growing and gardening. This program aims to strengthen social connections, empower land stewardship, and increase knowledge among participants. Participants will learn how to become self-sufficient, save money, and reduce waste on their gardening journey. These free and low-cost talks and workshops are held online and in-person.

Calgary Horticulture Society logo

Learn more about the Seed to Table Program and how to attend the talks and workshops.

Where to find local food


Farm Stand Program

The Farm Stand Program provides local farmers space to sell on City land and brings more fresh produce close to your home! With over 30 farm stands across Calgary, there is likely a stand near you. Visit Farm Stand Program for locations and times.

Learn more about the Farm Stand Program

Other local food options

Community food growing


Residential gardens

Household food production can include a variety of spaces and produce. Grow herbs and small vegetables inside your house. Plant fruit and vegetables in the ground or in raised beds in your yard. Food production at home can include vertical gardens, balcony gardens, rooftop gardens, and greenhouses. You can grow a wealth of fresh food in even the smallest garden plot or containers. The benefits of growing your own herbs, vegetables, and fruits can 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.

Boulevards are owned by The City. However, homeowners are responsible for maintenance of the boulevard next to their property. Since most boulevards are grass, it may be possible to plant a garden. In all cases, permission from The City is required.

To add a boulevard garden, contact 311 to learn about the approval process.

Community gardens

Community gardens can enhance the health and well-being of neighbourhoods and communities in Calgary. The City values community gardens and supports the creation of new community gardens on public lands, as well as the retention of existing community gardens in the city. We're pleased to support community gardens by working with a variety of community organizations.

Visit Community gardens in Calgary for information on how to start a community garden.

Indoor commercial food production


Indoor commercial food production is accommodated in the Industrial and Commercial districts. This activity includes hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics, the raising of insects and aquaculture in buildings, structures, and freight containers.

Food production includes fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, flowers, fiber, seeds, nuts, seedlings, herbs, insects and fish. It includes management practices and activities such as cultivation, harvesting, storing, sorting, cleaning and packaging.

Food production does not include products regulated by the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (e.g. cannabis).

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. Visit the Food production business guide for more information.

Note: the Alberta Building Code considers shipping containers to be buildings. The unit must meet factory certification standards to CSA A277 or CSA A660 or a combination thereof.

Development permit

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. Units placed inside a warehouse require an interior partitioning Building Permit.

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

Outdoor commercial urban agriculture


Urban Agriculture involves growing plants outdoors for commercial purposes - on a vacant parcel, rooftop, or other area appropriate for landscaping. The plants are sold or donated and consumed by someone other than the grower.

  • 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.
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