The City of Edmonton wants you to reap what you sow with their newly launched community garden pilot program. This pilot program, called the Vacant Lot Cultivation Pilot, will grant local gardeners access to municipal land for 7 months this year. Gardeners participating in this pilot program will be able to produce food and flowers, while promoting local and healthier options from themselves and their communities.
The Vacant Lot Cultivation pilot program is being used to assess and refine the Vacant Lot Cultivation License, which is being developed by the City of Edmonton Administration. As a participant in the Vacant Lot Cultivation Pilot Program, a gardener will have a license to access a public utility lot. On this lot, you can cultivate crops of fruits, vegetables, and flowers from April through October. The license for the pilot program is a cost of $100 with an additional $100 deposit (the $100 deposit will be returned at the end of the program following cleanup). Gardeners will be responsible for the entire gardening experience from spreading suitable soil and sowing seeds to site stewardship.
There are a few guidelines that must be met for participation in this pilot program:
- All crops yielded from the lot must be for non-profit use.
- All costs associated with the maintenance and upkeep on the lot is the responsibility of the lot licensee.
- Users must act as stewards of the municipal land and employ only one community use on the lot (i.e., opportunities for food production, education, community gathering, and environmental spaces).
- Permanent landscaping, livestock, cannabis production, and for-profit activities are not permitted for this pilot program.
There are nearly 100 lots available for use, ranging from 45 to 400 square meters. The average lot is about 200 square meters and the lots are located across Edmonton. Applications for this pilot program will be available on March 1, 2018 and will be accepted until April 15. If you are interested in participating in this pilot project, I encourage you to apply! More information can be found here.
This program is an important step in promoting the accessibility and availability of urban agriculture. Too much of our produce travels too far a distance before it finds itself in our carts, on our plates, and in our stomachs. Community gardens in urban spaces provide locally sourced fresh fruits, vegetables, plants, and flowers. More than that, however, they connect communities, enrich our environment, and support self-sufficiency for our city.
Urban agriculture is budding and flourishing across Edmonton and programs like this help Edmonton plot our way to more sustainable, affordable, local, and healthy opportunities. I am excited to see what Edmontonians will dig up! Happy harvesting!