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Sign up for a Pop-Up Community Garden

Community gardens and pop-ups are a sign that people want to garden, whatever way they can. Photo: Lucy Haines


Calling all growers and green thumbs! The City of Edmonton is creating a temporary, pop-up community garden pilot this year, but interested groups only have between May 13 and May 18 to apply. The gardens are raised beds on City-owned or community league licensed land, designed for community food production and as a safe and healthy recreational activity.

Up to 30 temporary gardens will be added across Edmonton, providing gardening spots for over 350 gardeners.

Each planter will be used for growing edible plants only and will be arranged by the City in a formation three metres apart to create an area that enables physical distancing and for no more than 15 people. The City will deliver seven to 15 planter boxes, including soil, to each selected site and will then water each planter box twice per week.

Group applicants will assign the gardeners to their specific planter boxes. Gardeners must provide the plants, seeds, disinfecting products, personal gardening protective equipment and tools, as well as the gardening knowledge and dedicated commitment to support the garden. Once gardeners harvest their vegetables in the fall, the City will remove the planters.

To support Edmontonians and give back to the community, gardeners will also be encouraged to donate what they are able to any local food bank or charitable organization. See for more information and to apply.

Community gardens may remind people of the Victory Gardens that emerged during World Wars I and II as a way to minimize demand on the public food system. At the time, citizens were encouraged to grow fruits and vegetables, so more of the food coming from farms and processors could be shipped overseas to soldiers. Today, people grow victory gardens as a form of self-reliance.

Self-sufficiency, cost savings and an understanding of how simple it can be to grow food--that's the impetus for Liz Kalisvaart, president of the Fraser Community League in North East Edmonton who, with other league members, is opening a small community garden (of five to eight plots), in the league's gated rink area. 



"Some residents of the area don't have a vehicle, and there's not even a direct bus to the grocery store four kilometers away. There's a lot of apartment complexes in this area and people in need, so we want to offer an outdoor space to those who have none, and show them you don't need to be an expert to grow your own vegetables. We have one designated box for the food bank, and volunteers to help maintain and water the garden, so it doesn't have to take a lot of time," said Kalisvaart.

"A box can have just potatoes--easy and low-effort--and that'll produce about 100 pounds in a season. Gardening is low-stress too, and it's a way to bring people out of their homes. People are asking 'What zone do we live in? What kind of dirt do we use?' We know the interest is there."

City Councillor for the area, Aaron Paquette, has long championed community gardens and use of vacant public lots for urban agriculture. Paquette said they're a needed supplement to what could be an uncertain food supply. "We know the virus will continue to pop up, and there will be restrictions and changes over time. But think of this: In Edmonton, food travels an average distance of 1,500 miles to reach our plates. Especially at a time like this, it makes sense to use vacant public spaces and let the community garden on it," he said.

Paquette said many of us have parents and grandparents who have been through a war, and they understand that things can get tough. So converting a vacant lot, or considering a small back or even front yard garden (which are allowed) to supplement a family's food supply makes sense.

"We're in difficult times and we need to create local solutions like this."