"Calgary's food plan more in favor of large companies than urban farms"

Ten years ago, Calgary city council embraced an ambitious plan to ensure healthy food was accessible to all residents. It was the culmination of years of advocacy and guerilla or illegal gardening by people facing food insecurity themselves. But that approach — "potatoes for the people" — is still mostly a dream, writes Elise Stolte with cbc.ca.

Instead of communal farms, the city got a vibrant craft brewery scene, more farmers' markets and indoor hydroponic farms — a win for food security and an economic boost appreciated by many, but not the vision those early advocates had been fighting for.

It left some advocates cynical and disillusioned, says John Bailey, a landscaper turned academic who focused his 2021 masters thesis for the University of Calgary on understanding what happened to the food action plan, Calgary Eats! "Early on, there was a lot of skepticism and some pushback from the administration and council," Bailey said. "So the pattern of it has been: ask a little bit, build on your wins, ask a little bit. City staff did the best with the resources that they had. But there could be a much larger movement to address accessibility to help people who are suffering from food insecurity so that they wouldn't have to do the guerrilla urbanist movements and these things that are prohibited."

Today, pandemic-related supply chain issues and drought are driving up food prices, causing many to look again at the security of Calgary's food system. Families and individuals are having to budget and cut back on healthy food choices, sometimes for the first time.  As part of CBC Calgary's High Cost of Food project, several Calgary residents have asked about collective gardening and access to land. The reason why that's limited today goes back to the rollout of Calgary Eats! But of course the future is still to be written, and city officials say progress is being made. 

Read the complete article at www.cbc.ca.

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