Food Notes for May 16, 2022

Edmonton Urban Farm Continues to Grow

After a year of significant expansion, the Edmonton Urban Farm continues to grow, as staff plan to add infrastructure, further diversify its community of farmers and open its doors to the public on a regular basis.

Established in 2014, the Edmonton Urban Farm is made up of two acres and is located at 113 Avenue and 79 Street. In addition to garden plots, the Urban Farm is also home to one bee hive and six egg-laying hens. The goal of the Urban Farm is to connect people to food and farming within the city, explained Jessie Radies, director with Explore Edmonton.

“The urban farm is a community hub for urban agriculture, education and sustainability,” said Radies. “It’s also a thriving example of how surplus urban lands can be used to build connections and enhance local food security.”

With the dissolution of Northlands in 2021, Explore Edmonton took over the management of the Urban Farm. In that same year, the Urban Farm was able to double in size thanks to grant funding from the United Way and the Butler Family Foundation. Last month, it was announced that the Urban Farm would receive nearly $100,000 from Prairies Economic Development Canada to further enhance the property.

“This project encompasses the expansion that happened last year, which expanded the urban farm by 30,000 square feet”, said Radies. “It will also allow us to add infrastructure to extend our growing season and provide a shaded area for visitors to protect from heat and rain.”

The Urban Farm allocates plots to partner community groups, and this year, will involve over three hundred people from 20 different groups. Groups include Homeward Trust, Right at Home Housing Society, Student Association of MacEwan University, and Wild Outside. But Patty Milligan, agriculture education specialist, shared that the largest number of their new groups are made up of newcomers to Canada, connected with the Urban Farm through the Multicultural Health Brokers.

“Some are experienced gardeners or farmers, some are brand new to gardening in general, and some are brand new to gardening in Alberta,” said Milligan. “We’ll be helping gardeners become familiar with the unique requirements of Alberta’s climate.”

The participating newcomers represent a diverse number of cultural communities, including Afghan, Filipino, Karen, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Somali, Syrian, South Sudanese, and Vietnamese.

“Groups appreciate being able to grow specific vegetables that are not easily found in Edmonton supermarkets, or, if they are, they are very expensive,” said Milligan. “One group grew three different kinds of bok choy last year. Several groups appreciated being able to harvest pumpkin leaves, amaranth, and bean leaves. I suspect those varieties will expand in the coming year.”

As all plots were already spoken for earlier in the year, it is clear interest from prospective gardeners continues to be strong. Milligan cites a number of factors, such as a desire to gather with other members of the community, and an appetite to gain gardening knowledge and skills. However, food security and safety have also played a role.

“Many gardeners have commented on the expense of fresh vegetables and appreciate being able to walk away from the Urban Farm with a bag full of tomatoes or kale,” said Milligan. “People also want to be able to gather in a safe space, both safe from COVID, and also safe from racism. One gardener mentioned that seniors from their community don’t always feel welcome when they visit public spaces.”

For the first time, the Urban Farm will be open to the public every Saturday from 10am-4pm from May 21 until Oct. 8. Visitors can opt for a self-guided walk, or join scheduled activities to be posted on their website.

Milligan is looking forward to what this season will bring. “This will be a year of much energy and change and I am excited to see the results. I also hope that we start to be noticed as a model – there should be urban farms all over the city!”

Openings

  • Takam Market at MacEwan University is adding another concept called Big Sky Sandwich. It launched on May 16, 2022.
  • A branch of Good Earth Coffeehouse is now open at The Maclaren at 10147 124 Street.

Closures

  • District’s Young and Restless Pizza pop-up is now closed, but they left the door slightly open for the future.
  • Burger Brawl announced their closure last week. Their last day of operation was May 14, 2022.

Upcoming Events

  • Swine and Dine returns on May 31, 2022 to Hayloft Steak and Fish. Tickets for the 3-course meal, featuring Irvings Farm pork, are $68 each.
  • This summer, Alberta Food Tours is bringing back a limited run of their Savoury and Sweet Strathcona food tours. Tickets are $95 and include a sit down brunch and four food tasting stops.

Local News

  • Too Good To Go, an app that helps divert food waste by connecting consumers with discounted food that would otherwise be thrown out, is coming to Edmonton. The app is currently live in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City, and Calgary.
  • Western Living announced their ten short-listed 2022 Foodies of the Year, and two Edmontonians made it: Omar Mouallem for his Burger Baron documentary, and Scott Iserhoff of Pei Pei Chei Ow.
  • Linda’s #AdoptAShopAB list is up, and features 50 Edmonton (and 50 Calgary) businesses ready to adopt. Sign up to commit spending at least $25 from May 16-30, 2022 at one of these local independent shops.
  • Also from Linda, she hits up several brunch favourites in Edmonton, and visits third-generation owned Bing’s #1 Chinese Restaurant in Stony Plain.
  • The Public has partnered with the Capital Care Foundation to offer a Feast on Your Field experience at home, with pre-order kits available for pick-up this week from Highlands Golf Club, Royal Glenora Club, and Meuwly’s.
  • NAIT released a patio guide featuring restaurants run by NAIT grads.
  • Battista’s Calzones reopened this weekend after repairing damages sustained in a fire.
  • DRTY Ice Cream has faced several set backs this year, but owner Abby Ulanimo is persevering.
  • The Culinary Cook-Off was held this past weekend, to benefit the arts program at Highlands School. Congratulations to the winning teams, including the Highlands Golf Club, Von’s, Bloom, and Red Balloon Sweet Co.
  • Edify checked out the hot dogs at Pub 1905.
  • Edify also chatted with the owners of Blue Plate Diner and Northern Chicken as they struggle to keep up with rising canola oil prices.
  • St. Albert follows in Edmonton’s footsteps in permitting alcohol consumption in specific park sites starting in July.

What I Ate

    • We picked up dinner from Nourishak on Friday night. They have a cute and charming interior with cozy nooks, but we opted for take-out. My sous-vide chicken sandwich was satisfying (I liked the crunch from their house-made potato chips), and both Mack and Emily loved the addictive seaweed chips. Their lemonades were also great – I can see us returning for cold drinks on a hot day!

Nourishak

Take-out from Nourishak

    • We indulged in some Little Bear Gelato after our market run at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market on Sunday. It was the perfect day to enjoy a sweet treat in the sun – I love their Belgian chocolate flavour.

Little Bear Gelato

Belgian chocolate gelato from Little Bear

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