About the Calgary Food BankCommunity Gardens
When we can give food that is healthy, it is not just a gift for an empty tummy, it tells someone they matter.
Fresh from the heart
Food connects us as a community and builds each other up in times of need. Nothing is more true than Calgarians who, every year, come together to grow vegetables for their neighbours in need. Some are private and public community gardens, and others are organized volunteer efforts exclusively for the Calgary Food Bank. Large or small, every donation from a garden makes an incredible impact. When we can add fresh produce to a family or individual’s hamper, we are helping to build their resiliency. It is critical to eat well when you are in crisis so when we can give fresh-from-the-garden vegetables it tells someone they matter. It shows them we want them to get out of the circumstances they are in by providing them with the best food possible.
From July through October, we distribute an average of 5,000 hampers per month. That’s fresh produce in 20,000 hampers during the garden season because of ALL garden contributions!
started in 1999
TransAlta POWER Garden
The acronym stands for Projects Organized with Energetic Retirees, but POWER is an understatement for these dedicated TransAlta pensioners. Since 1999, more than 60 passionate volunteers have tended the .55 hectar parcel that grows vegetables for the sole purpose of donating them to the Food Bank. John Holmes, a full time volunteer with TransAlta’s POWER Garden for the past seven years, says farming is in his blood so he was instantly drawn to the idea of urban and community gardening.
“I think it’s watching things grow. You nurture them, you pull out the bad weeds and it’s all about this,” The feeling of pride and satisfaction from gardening is multiplied, Holmes says, from the added element of donating the food.“When you say it’s a charity garden for the food bank people just open their doors. We lease this land for a dollar a year, which we’ve never paid, and (farmers) load up trucks with the best seeds.” This year, the TransAlta’s POWER Garden is moving and volunteers are working feverishly to prep the land for next year’s crop. Watch for news on the 2019 growing season!
Acres of Land
pounds of donated food
started in 2016
Feed the Hungry
One of our newest community gardens is with Feed the Hungry, a program with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary. Every Sunday a healthy, high-quality meal in a friendly atmosphere of safety, respect and family is served to more approximately 500 homeless and marginalized Calgarians. In 2017, they planted a large plot just outside the City Limits east of Calgary, and harvested potatoes to serve for their weekly dinners.
This garden is a great example of collaboration, as their clients also helped harvest almost 4,000 pounds of produce from this garden. That’s quality fresh food that went into Calgary Food Bank hampers for families and individuals in need!
started in 1997
BP-Chevron Garden of Eat’n
When Marlene and Jack Begg returned from their teaching mission in Ethiopia in the mid ‘90s, they were still feeling inspired and wanted to do something helpful in their own community. They looked around and realized they could make a difference right in their own backyard! 25 volunteers from AmoCARES, BP and Chevron came out to plant, weed and harvest almost four thousand pounds of beets, carrots, potatoes and onions in the first year. 20 years and 250,000 pounds later, the Garden of Eat’n was Calgary’s longest-running, volunteer-driven, largest-producing community garden.
“It is amazing how this garden has produced so much over the years,” says the charismatic owner, Marlene Begg. “We rely soley on Mother Nature to provide the sun and the rain to grow.” It’s not just the potatoes and carrots, Begg explains, but that the garden is providing healthy food for families in crisis. “Healthy food produces healthy people who can continue on and overcome their obstacles.” The Garden of Eat’n may be no longer but it’s effects will last forever. Inspiring volunteers have nurtured a new generation of community gardeners, whose own efforts at growing-a-row help everyone!
Acres of Land
pounds of donated food
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”