Our Members!

We are very grateful to our member institutions for their leadership and support:

To become a member, please email joe@iafnw.org.

Another inspiration local food resource! Fruits of Sherbrooke wine tasting April 20th!


Local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Are you interested in supporting local producers?  One of the most direct ways to support local producers is to participate in a Community Supported Agriculture program or CSA. There are many diverse offerings across the province and in our own region. You can participate in CSAs that produce a wide range of produce, as well as meat and eggs. Some provide the opportunity to visit and help on the farm. CSAs make it possible to share the risk and reward of small scale local sustainable farming. Consider joining one (or more) today!

There are a number of wonderful CSA programs in Alberta. You can find them here: http://www.csaalberta.com/

Here are two great local CSAs and we will continue to add more!

Riverbend Gardens in North East Edmonton is well-known for their fresh local produce.  Janelle and her family have farmed in the area for many generations. They have recently expanded their offerings to include a CSA program. www.riverbendgardens.ca

Sparrow’s Nest Organics is our region’s longest running CSA! Located near Opal, AB  Graham Sparrow and Allison Landin have grown certified organic vegetables for over 10 years. www.sparroworganics.com

Thank you to the Community Spirit Grant Program!

The Greater Edmonton Alliance is very grateful to the Community Spirit Grant Program for it’s support over the last year! This grant has helped us continue our work of educating and engaging citizens and building new leaders in our community. Many Thanks to the Community Spirit Grant Program for this essential support!

10 Fast Facts on Food Security & Food Justice & Food Sovereignty in Edmonton

  • There are market gardens, Upicks, nurseries and greenhouses in Northeast Edmonton that want to keep growing food, trees and shrubs for generations to come. Average net profit per acre: Edmonton average net profit per acre at $79.68 is over double of anywhere else in the Capital Region. NE Edmonton average net profit per acre is $270.72. Five Counties in Capital Region range in net profit per acre from $6.65 ‐ $38.07 (2).
  • Eating our fruits and veggies is good for us and the earth. 19% of our ecological footprint is tied to food consumption. “Purchasing locally produced food is the most significant way to reduce the food footprint”9 8 of 10 of leading causes of death in Canada is diet‐related. Obesity costs Canada’s health care system an estimated $ 1.8 billion annually(10).
  • Every hectare of farmland lost now increases future hunger. “We can’t afford to lose more farmland. Fifty years from now, every hectare of agricultural land will be crucial. As it becomes increasingly expensive to get food produced elsewhere to the people, it will become increasingly attractive to take food production to the people – i.e., the cities”. In the most intensively farmed areas, it takes 0.2 ha of land to support each person. By 2050, the world’s available cropland per person drops down to less than 0.1 ha per person. (1)
  • Farmland is far too scarce a resource to be squandered. Only 5% of Canada’s land is not hampered by severe constraints for crop production and only 0.5% of land is Class 1 soil(2). In Alberta, 17% of land is good for farming, most of that is in Canada’s most rapidly urbanizing Edmonton to Calgary corridor along with 75% of Alberta’s population (3). The Capital Region has 733,000 hectares of Class 1, 2, 3 farmland—none of this has been identified for preservation (8).
  • Edmonton currently uses 1.8 global hectares per person to meet its food needs.(9) Population is expected to rise to between 1.2 and 1.5 million in the next 30 years. This would leave 0.5 – 0.6 ha per person, less than half of what we currently use to feed ourselves.
  • The state of farmland in Edmonton. In Edmonton, the total number of farms reporting agricultural activities has decreased from 170 farms in 2006 to 73 farms in 2011, a 57% decrease over the five‐year time period. Total area – 66548 acres in 2006 down to 13011 in 2011 (80% reduction).
  •  “Increasing numbers of Canadians are experiencing food shortages. Food bank use in Canada was up 10% between 1999 and 2010, and in post‐boom Alberta it rose 61% between 2008 and 2010. This is often framed as an economic problem rather than a food system problem. The fact is the inequities experienced are in large part an artifact of the global food system. Land ownership increasingly concentrated in hands of a few, plus more and more parts of food system in corporate ownership exacerbates this”(4).
  • We are going to need a more locally grown food supply sooner than later. Economists and food system analysts are telling us that there is currently only a two to three day supply of food in our city’s grocery stores (5). Most of our imported vegetables and fruits are from areas highly dependent on a reliable water source, consistent weather temperature and cheap transportation. As climate change impacts are felt globally this in turn will impact both the reliability and the cost of the foods that we currently have relatively easy and cheap access to. The most important river to our current supply of fresh vegetables is the Colorado River and it is in peril.
  • Our fruits and vegetables are being bred to travel not for nutrition. At the Food in the City conference that the City of Edmonton hosted in May 2012, Jim Hole, one of the keynote speakers told us about the carrot test. He said that carrots are being bred to travel. You should be able to drop a carrot from the height of your shoulder and it should break. Imported carrots need to be durable according to him.
  • The world faces a new food economy that likely involves both higher and more volatile food prices, and evidence of both phenomena was on view in 2011. After the food price crisis of 2007–08, food prices started rising again in June 2010, with international prices of maize and wheat roughly doubling by May 2011”(6).
  • We are losing farmers at an alarming rate. Between 1991 and 2006, the number of young farmers (under the age of 35) decreased by 62%. In that same period we have moved from one farm in every four having a young farmer on it to today, just one farm in eight. This is largely because of the farm income crisis. While the total value of the grains and livestock and vegetables and other food products grown and raised by Canadian farmers since 1985 is three quarters of a trillion dollars, the total of farmers’ net income from the markets (farms support payments excluded) over that same time period is zero (7).

1. Montgomery, David. 2007. Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization. Berkeley: University of California Press.
2. City of Edmonton. June 23, 29, 2009. Background Report Attachment 1. Additional Information: Parts 1, 2, and 3.
3. Mah, Kevin. 2008. This land is our land. St. Albert Gazette. November 1.
4. Weibe, Nettie and Kevin Wipf. 2011. Nurturing Food Soveregnty in Canada. in Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Hannah Wittman et. al eds. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
5. Cockrall‐King, Jennifer. 2012. Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution. Prometheus Books.
6. Torero, Maximo. 2012. Food Prices: Riding the Rollercoaster.
7. Qualman, Darrin (2011). Advancing Agriculture by Destroying Farms? The State of Agriculture in Canada. in Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Hannah Wittman et. al eds. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
8.City of Edmonton. 2012. Agricultural Inventory and Assessment – Citywide Food and Agriculture Strategy.
9.Wilson, Jeffrey and Mark Anielski. 2005. Ecological Footprints of Canadian Municipalities and Regions. The Canadian Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
10. Statistics Canada, 2009.

7 Facts on Shifting Demographics, the City’s Growth and Preserving Farmland

You have heard lots of discussion about the need to sacrifice farmland in northeast Edmonton to meet the needs of a population projected to increase from 812,000 to 1.2 million people by 2040 requiring 146,000 new housing units. But here is the part of the story you haven’t heard about the demographic shift.

• The City’s Growth Coordination Strategy indicates we already have enough land approved for development to meet the next 25 years of housing demand.

• City economist John Rose said in December 2012 that Edmonton region could reach 1.5 million people within a decade if the working-age population keeps rising at its current pace. But in a year-end interview with media, he noted that “most of the people coming to Edmonton are in their prime working years, from their late 20s to late 40s, and many want to live in apartments, condos and townhouses rather than traditional suburban bungalows”(1).

• Financial post columnist Jason Heath also noted the demographic shift where “the Baby Boomer is likely to sell the 3,000 square foot, 4-bedroom home they raised their family in and instead opt for a 1,500 square foot condo before long”(2). Rod Carrick in the Globe and Mail agrees “Now, as they start entering retirement, boomers aren’t buying houses any more and the younger generation isn’t large enough to pick up the slack”(3).

• A report from Great West Life Realty Advisors in 2010 concluded that economic, demographic and social shifts in Canada are re-shaping housing preferences increasing the popularity of multi-family and apartment living. The report notes that the younger generation seems to have less interest in automotive use, making “apartment living in dense, walkable and transit-oriented urban areas a more natural fit for their lifestyles.” And while population growth may continue through immigration, as the report points out, many immigrants also grew up in dense urban environments (4).

• Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, described four shifting demographics that are impacting both housing and the way Toronto is developing: family size is decreasing, people are living longer, 19 to 35 year olds are choosing to live downtown and are not moving to the suburbs like previous generations and more people are choosing to live alone. She also described the largest cohort as being the 19 to 35 olds. They are avoiding the suburbs for quicker commute times and are seeking housing close to amenities, workplaces and transit and situated in mixed use communities(5).

• In that same presentation, Keesmaat indicated that what had the greatest impact on curbing urban sprawl in the Greater Toronto Area was a land use policy decision, i.e. the creation of the Greenbelt, NOT a market decision(5).

• If we are going to densify the urban core, mature neighbourhoods and new neighbourhoods with mid to high density condos, we will need some condos that are family friendly. Otherwise we will have very unbalanced and unhealthy neighbourhoods. Condos with two or more bedrooms, access to private outdoor space, superior soundproofing, and sufficient bulk storage will be needed so that we have a variety of household sizes living in all parts of the city (6).

The proposed Horse Hill Area Structure Plan would convert prime farmland into more low density residential and retail development. Such urban sprawl is hardly “smart growth” in a time of major demographic shifts and a re-ordering of housing preferences among both the boomers and the younger generations.


1. Kent,Gordon (2012) Edmonton’s working-age population is on the rise city economist says. Edmonton Journal, December 19.
2. Heath, Jason (2012) How house prices depend on demographics Financial Post, Octobr 30.
3. Carrick, Rob (2012) Canada’s housing market : a victim of demographics Globe and Mail December 10.
4. Great West Life Realty Advisors (2010) Drivers of apartment -living in Canada for the twenty-first century, September.
5. Jennifer Keesmaat, Placemaking and the Politics of Planning. City-Region Studies Centre: Regional Planning Speakers Series
podcast. http://www.crsc.ualberta.ca/EventsArchive/2013-01-22PlaceMakingandthePoliticsofPlanningJenniferKeesmaat.aspx
6. Elise Stolte, Kids Help Balance a Community advocate says, Edmonton Journal September 19. 2011.

Horse Hill Area Structure Plan (ASP) Public Hearing


Mon, February 25, 1:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 26, 1:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.


City of Edmonton Council Chambers (map)


The Horse Hill Area Structure Plan (ASP) is scheduled to be presented to City Council for public hearing on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.

Following that, people can register to speak for or against the ASP. The hearing will go until 9:30 p.m. on the 25th and then resume on the 26th if there are more speakers to be heard.

Edmonton’s City Council seems poised to approve this plan. This plan reserves virtually none of the farmland in northeast Edmonton and if approved would convert almost all of the remaining 
farmland to residential and commercial use. The Horse Hill Area Structure Plan is the first in a series of three plans that will come before City Council and preserve virtually none of the remaining prime agricultural soil within the city limits.

To register to speak at the Public Hearing, you can contact the Office of the City Clerk at 780- 496-8178. Save the date and plan to join other food citizens to send a clear message to City Council that preserving some of the agricultural land in northeast Edmonton is an important priority.


Petition City Council: Please Gather Good Information before making a Billion Dollar Land Use Decision!

Edmonton’s City Council seems poised to approve the Horse Hill Area Structure Plan (ASP). This plan reserves virtually none of the farmland in northeast Edmonton and if approved would convert almost all of the remaining farmland to residential and commercial use.

The Public Hearing about the plan is scheduled for February 25 and 26, 2013, (1:30 to 9:30 both days). This is the first in a series of plans that preserve none of the remaining prime agricultural soil within the city limits.

Please Read and Sign our Petition and come to City Hall on February 25th and 26th!


To learn more about this issue CLICK HERE!

Why should you care about land use decisions in Northeast Edmonton?

  • The City and its citizens can’t afford it.  Suburbs are a drain on cities.1 The City of Edmonton has estimated that the infrastructure deficit is $19 billion from 2009 to 2018.2
    • $1.2 billion projected bill for unfunded infrastructure for neighbourhoods already approved for development3
    • $1.2 billion projected bill for unfunded infrastructure for Urban Growth Areas

Essentially, by approving the Horse Hill ASP, Council would be adding  hundreds of millions in infrastructure costs that it has no plan to pay for.  This on top of $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs already committed to, with no plan for how to pay for that.  Developers/homebuyers pay some of the upfront costs for development, building road and sewers, and providing land for parks.  The City has to fund the development of parks; contribute to building larger roads; buy land for and build recreation centres, fire and police stations, and libraries.  The $1.2 billion figure does not include operating costs for recreational and emergency services, snow removal, road and sewer maintenance, road widening, building interchanges, public transit, the list goes on.  In fact, a 2011 City Report indicates on average the City spends $1.36 for every $1.00 it collects in revenue for new developments.4

  • New and aging infrastructure needs in other parts of the city (e.g., LRT and public transit, sewer, roads, police stations, fire halls, libraries, snow removal, etc) will likely be put on hold to support the costs of this new development. There’s already a gap of $10.5 billion between what the City needs and the projected available funding for infrastructure.5  We need to know how the city plans to pay for our long-term infrastructure needs across the city in the context of this current development application.
  • Once soil is paved over, it’s gone forever.  Like taxpayer money, farmland is not a resource to be squandered lightly.  And yet the City in all of its development decisions has NEVER chosen farmland over development. Farmland in northeast Edmonton is clearly superior with assets that include rich fertile soil, an advantageous climate with an expanded growing season, ready access to irrigation water, existing rail and road transportation links, ready access to the urban market, ready access to a labor force and generations of farming experience already there.  None of this is easily transferable. It’s a synergistic blend perfect for new and thriving urban agriculture farms and related businesses and services.
  • The unexplored economic, social, environmental and health benefits for a local food economy are enormous.  The City of Edmonton spent over $750,000 developing their FRESH: Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy.6 The report states on page 5 that “producing more of our food closer to home has current and future benefits including: a multiplier effect on local economic development, agri-tourism opportunities in the food sector, the health-related benefits and cost savings of fresher food, the environmental benefits of ecosystem goods and services and the potential to reduce food waste and emissions from less transportation”. Unlike many resource sectors subject to boom/bust cycles, agriculture is far steadier. In fact, demand for food increases as a population grows and markets develop.
  • This decision will impact the future generations who will be paying for the cost of this residential development and the loss of the urban agriculture opportunities for years to come.  The same vision and forethought that was used to create Edmonton’s world renowned Waste Management System and our River Valley System needs to be brought to our Local Food System.
  • Citizens have asked, over and over, that urban agricultural alternatives and preservation of agricultural land be one of the criteria for future planning and development in Edmonton.  During the development of the Municipal Development Plan, the city The City engaged in a comprehensive public consultation process as part of the development of the FRESH: Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy. Citizens consistently indicated that access to land for growing food and preservation of agricultural land within the city limits was a priority and a sound direction for the city to undertake.7,8,9
  • We are going to need a more locally grown food supply sooner than later. Economists and food system analysts are telling us that there is currently only a two to three day supply of food in our city’s grocery stores. Most of our imported vegetables and fruits are from areas highly dependent on a reliable water source, consistent weather temperature and cheap transportation. As climate change impacts are felt globally this in turn will impact both the reliability and the cost of the foods that we currently have relatively easy and cheap access to.


  1.  Freedgood, Julia (2002). Cost of Community Services Studies: Making the Case for Conservation. American Farmland Trust.  (Fact Sheet Summary – http://www.farmlandinfo.org/documents/27757/FS_COCS_8-04.pdf
  2. Gilbert, R. (2011, March 28). Infrastructure Plan Sorely Needed to Address Deficit. Journal of Commerce: Western Canada’s Construction Newspaper. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from http://www.joconl.com/article/id43581
  3.  City of Edmonton. (2012). Growth Coordination Strategy, Draft 5.
  4. City of Edmonton (2011). Costs & Revenues for New Areas. http://www.chba.ca/uploads/urban_council/Oct2011/Tab%206%20-%20Costs%20and%20Revenues%20for%20New%20Areas%20-%20City%20of%20Edmonton%20paper.pdf
  5. City of Edmonton. (2012). 10 Year Capital Investment Agenda. http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Approved_2012_Capital_Investment_Agenda.pdf
  6.  City of Edmonton’s FRESH: Food and Urban Agricultural Strategy, October 2012. http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/FRESH_October_2012.pdf
  7. City of Edmonton’s Public Opinion Survey, September 2012. http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Food_and_Ag_Public_Opinion_Survey_Report_Sept_2012.pdf
  8. City of Edmonton’s Citizen Panel, September 2012 http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Food_and_Ag_Strategy_Citizen_Panel_Report_Sept_2012.pdf
  9. City of Edmonton’s Stakeholder Focus Groups, September 2012 http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Food_Ag_Stakeholder_Summary_Round_2_Sept_2012.pdf


If the land could speak

My heart is sorrowful. In our church we have had much discussion about caring for the gift of creation that we are all part of and that we are called to be stewards for. In the past few years, preserving the agricultural land in northeast Edmonton has been a matter of much prayer, prayer that city councilors would value the integral spirit of the land and preserve its giftedness for us and for future generations. 

At the public hearings for the City-Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy at city hall this fall, I heard one of the majority landowners state that as long as they could not build on or develop the land they considered it “sterile”. The land can’t speak for itself. But if it could I am sure it would most vigorously object to being called “sterile”.  It would say, “Me?  Sterile?   Out of my womb I am providing you every year with thousands of pounds of vegetables, potatoes, carrots, spinach, cabbage, and berries of all kinds. Those who want to sterilize me have been minimizing my importance to you, but let me assure you, if am allowed to produce I will greatly enhance the food quality and security for your children and their children’schildren. Not to brag, but I am special compared to other lands. In the spring, because I am in the river valley, I wake up two weeks earlier then the rest of the land and in the fall I go to sleep two weeks later. If you have a garden you know the great difference four weeks can make in growing vegetables. Most lands in Alberta are best suited for grain crops.  I, in contrast, am superbly suited for your essential root crops.  I am a sandy loam soil and, with my partner the great Saskatchewan River hydrating my body through irrigation, I am able to give you, my Edmonton friends, a great wealth of fresh fruits and vegetables. One acre of potatoes will provide 400 families with 100 pounds each—enough for a year! One acre of fruit and vegetable growing can net from $6300 to $30,000 per acre in production depending on the size of the farm, the farming practice and the type of produce grown.  The ones farming here today love me, not just because they are making a good living growing vegetables, but because they honour me for what I am able to produce.” 

As Edmontonians we are proud of having 27,400 acres of parkland in the city; to preserve another1400 acres for agriculture along the river in the northeast is a pittance, less than 1% of the area of the City as a whole. So why is city council nixing that vision? Is it because city council is under a spell of so-called urban progress, or is it as some have suggested they are beholden to the developers, either in being their friends or having had campaign contributions from them?  If the latter is true they need to come clean and refrain from making decisions on this land. The farmland in question is too precious to be sold for 30 pieces of silver.

Hundreds of citizens came to the hearings in favor of preserving the land, but this did not convince city council to even explore the possibility of retaining the land before approving a development plan that will rezone the land for residential development. City council is ready to throw away a once in the-history-of-Edmonton opportunity. We need to break the spell that blinds our leaders to our real needs and hopes for the future of our city.

People of faith have been instrumental in changing the politics of the day. Think of the civil rights movement, the Mackenzie pipeline hearings, and now Idle No More. My prayer is that the people of faith in Edmonton will once again offer up their own living prayers.  Perhaps some of us will write our Councilors and ask them to take the time to gather good information before making any land use decisions for Northeast Edmonton.  Maybe we could attend the February 25 and 26 Northeast Area Structure Plan public hearings at City Hall and invite everyone we know to be there. Perhaps faith communities could organize petitions to city council.  Some of us might even sign up to speak on behalf of the land and future generations.

Can we the people advocate for the land to be used in a way that gives life to all including future generations?  In faith, prayer and action all things are possible.

Reverend Harry Kuperus is a retired pastor and chaplain living in Edmonton.