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The push to grow more of what we eat in Edmonton

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The push to grow more of what we eat in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: In light on the COVID-19 pandemic, one Edmonton city councillor is calling for a more robust conversation about the need to grow food locally. Vinesh Pratap explains. – Apr 13, 2020

In northeast Edmonton, like across the city, the snow is still on the ground. But that’s not stopping Liz Kalisvaart from thinking about the growing season ahead.

“We’re almost on year two of planning our community garden.”

An application is in to the city for a $1,000 grant to start a community garden in Fraser.

“It’s still a pretty daunting process,” explained Kalisvaart, the president of the Fraser Community League. “It would be nice if it was toned down quite a bit. I still think that there’s valid questions that they ask though.”

READ MORE: City of Montreal orders all of its community gardens to close amid coronavirus outbreak

The garden would be located on land that houses the community league building, starting with five plots and growing to 30 if there’s neighbourhood interest.

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“What we’ve learned is that some of our food systems are a little more fragile than we thought,” Councillor Aaron Paquette said.

Locally-grown is something the councillor for Ward 4 has been thinking about for the last two years, with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting how fragile the food system can be.

“One of the things we’re looking at is, what can we do locally to promote more self-sustainability and self-reliance,” Paquette said.

He wants to see the re-introduction of a program where vacant city lots are used to grow food.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of red tape, a lot of liability issues,” Paquette said.

“What I’m calling for is we take a look at those things and cut everything that we can to make this as simple as possible.”

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It’s something Kalisvaart would welcome, with the urban gardener envisioning the city going further, such as growing orchard trees in park spaces, even encouraging hydroponics as an option, to encourage urban agriculture to take root.

“It would be nice to see more people get behind the idea.”

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