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Today we discuss rising food insecurity in the city; learn about the new ‘Bird Two’ e-scooters; meet the woman behind the pay-it-forward lawn signs; and more.
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MONDAY, JUNE 14
A photo of a bike infront of a CTrain
📷  @rathbicycle // Instagram
Good Morning, Calgary!

I think that the weekend went faster than last week did, but that's okay. We've got some good stories on tap for you this week and we do hope you enjoy them. Don't forget to keep sending us those story ideas and Citizen feature nominations — we love hearing from you! And a special shout out to my mom, who reads our newsletter every single day. I love you, mom!

We would also like to make a small amendment to our Friday COVID numbers. It turns out we mixed up hospitalizations with new cases - whoops! Thanks to you dear readers you caught our mistake right away. Our only excuse is — the rain got to our heads.... In all seriousness, these things happen and we're glad we have you to help us out. Happy Monday Calgary.


— Krista Sylvester, Reporter

Volunteers working on Highfield Farm
Highfield Regenerative Farm is a 15-acre urban farm in Calgary working create a collaborative food-focused community and raise awareness to food access in the city. 📷 Modular Creative / Submittted
URBAN FARMING 🌾🚜
Highfield Regenerative Farm is making history in Calgary

BY KRISTY ARCHIBALD

This urban farm is working to decrease food insecurities in the city while building a community that connects Calgarians with their local food network.


Through their vibrant food-focused community, Highfield Regenerative Farm aims to reconnect us with our food, while making fresh ingredients accessible to all Calgarians. With a 90% volunteer-driven workforce it’s their mission to educate, engage, and get people outdoors as they actively participate in their community and something larger than themselves.

"Our vision is to become a community urban farm hub, where people can come and get connected to their local food system, and learn about growing food, soil health, and regenerative agriculture in general. Also how we can support a healthy ecosystem while being productive," says Heather Ramshaw, Highfield Farm operations manager. "We're trying to build a collaborative space where everybody not only feels empowered when they're on the farm but like they're giving back as much as they're getting out of it.

Let’s back up - what is ‘regenerative farming’?

It can be known as a way to work with the environment to grow food,’ but as Ramshaw notes, it goes beyond that.

"It’s recognizing and honouring the fact that we are a part of this system and the environment, rather than working with it. It’s actually based on a lot of traditional Indigenous growing methods that now people are coming back to. We deviated from this with industrialized agriculture, and we’ve seen the negative impacts that it has like degrading soil health, polluting water channels, or interrupting systems."

"We have a lot to learn from the cultures who have been implementing these strategies for a very long time."

This team of farmers is breaking ground — literally — and laying a foundation for urban farming here in Calgary.

As a part of a City of Calgary pilot project, they have worked to transport 15-acres of underutilized land into a working urban farm in the midst of the city. Now in year two, Jack Goodwin, one of the founding co-farmers tells us that they have fifty, 50-foot raised beds growing food this year, much of which will be going to the Calgary Food Bank and the Leftovers Foundation.

"Highfield Farm is the city’s first official outdoor urban agriculture pilot project — on public property. You know as a city program, not just somebody doing it on private land or through backyards or anything like that," says Goodwin.

To clarify, the farm has been given $0 from the city. Rather, they partnered with the Compost Council of Canada and worked collaboratively with the city to in turn receive access to a $2-million property — for dirt cheap.

"We have helped them develop bylaws and rules around what urban agriculture could look like and how you can actually allow people to start these businesses, and in turn, we received access to property that allowed us to start this farm and start a larger conversation surrounding the importance of urban farming.

Goodwin notes that many of his friends in the industry have already gained access to plots along the greenline to start urban farms, and they credit the easy process to the work Goodwin and his team put in ahead of them.

Working toward a goal to help decrease food insecurities in Calgary

"Working with the Food Bank and through my own research, I know that there is an incredible need for food in the city. Back in 2021 when they last released statistics it was something like 10 to 20% of Calgarians felt like they were food insecure, or not able to afford food at any one point in time."

With the pandemic and people losing jobs, Goodwin would be surprised if those numbers are the same if not worse.

"Our idea is to produce fresh food at scale so that we can provide people with calories, flavours, and fresh foods that give them that extra kick on top of the staples that they receive through a food bag."

"You can only eat Chef Boyardee for so many days in a row…"

Creating a collaborative community

Volunteering and becoming a part of the community at Highfield Farm is just one of the many perks of joining their newly-launched membership program.

"You have a sense of pride when you can say ‘I planted that kale’ and you’ve watched the food go from a seed right to the end-user, says Goodwin.

This process allows you to understand the entire food chain — no matter what your experience level in the garden is.

"Even if an experienced backyard gardener doesn’t necessarily understand commercial production, food charity, or what food poverty looks like. So when people come and volunteer they learn something, they see things grow, and they gain that experience that helps our farm gain efficiency size and scale — the fine line that differentiates community gardening and urban farming."

Goodwin and his team of volunteers were able to get a whole 50-foot bed planted of over 400 plants in barely 15 minutes last Friday — talk about some serious teamwork.

Ramshaw adds that it doesn’t matter your experience level to volunteer - everyone is welcome.

"We’ll gauge tasks to the skill-sets we have available. Things like planting and weeding are very basic to teach, even laying an irrigation system. We’d never hand you something and say ‘go use this’ — there’s always a bit of training. It’s also so exciting to see people chatting with each other and folks who aren't as experienced asking questions of the people who have done this before."

"So it's a really cool knowledge sharing opportunity as well."

Be sure to keep an eye out for their food stand launching soon! Here they’ll be selling off extra produce from the farm as it becomes available. You can expect to see everything from garlic to zucchinis to tomatoes to squash and everything in between — yum!
HIGHLIGHT REEL
💰
You could win a million dollars in cash just for getting your vaccine: Premier Jason Kenney announced the ‘Open for Summer’ vaccine lottery over the weekend to encourage Albertans to get out and get their second dose. There will be three $1-million pizes. The first draw will take place on the day Alberta hits Stage 3 of its reopening plan.

🏇  The 2021 Calgary Stampede Rodeo will happen in light of the travel exemption granted to rodeo performers and staff by the Federal Government: The Minister of Immigration, Marco Mendicino gave them a one-time entry into Canada. As part of the deal, The Calgary Stampede must have measures in place to trace, test, and isolate COVID cases. They must also hire a compliance officer, implement a ‘modified quarantine,’ limit physical interactions, and comply with health orders.

❤️  Two people were stabbed in a Calgary Church: The event took place on Friday, June 11 at New Victory Church. Two people suffered significant injuries and the suspect was arrested. The investigation is still ongoing.


😷  
President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau discussed the current border restrictions at the G7 Summit over the weekend: No decision was made. Trudeau said in his closing statement that things will be coordinated "as both countries move forward with mass vaccinations." As he has noted before he won’t consider relaxing border restrictions until 75% of Canadians have had their first shot at least. Currently, 61.3% of Canadians have received one dose.
E-scooters in East Village
E-scooters are back and here to stay after a successful 16-month pilot project. Bird Canada, pictured here, and Neuron Mobility won the bid to serve Calgarians. 📷 Bird Canada / Submitted
COMMUNITY  🛴
E-Scooters are more than just a fun way to get around

BY: KRISTA SYLVESTER

The City of Calgary and the University of Calgary are working together to give Calgarians an environmentally friendly and affordable way to commute, while spurring our local economy.

Great views, good for the environment, affordable, and fun — what more could you ask for when it comes to inner-city transportation.

Yes, e-scooters are back and they’re here to stay this time as Ward 8 councillor Evan Woolley announced on social media a few weeks ago. Bird Canada and Neuron Mobility were chosen as the two providers.

"Calgarians love e-scooters. After a successful 16-month pilot project, #yyccc (Calgary City Council) unanimously voted to continue the e-scooter program long-term," the inner city councillor tweeted.

Neuron Mobility scooters are new to Calgary while Bird Canada was part of the city’s pilot program alongside Lime, which lost out on its bid to stay in the city.

Bird Canada’s return to Calgary for its third season features some changes, and its "Go Local, Go Bird" campaign is designed to support local businesses and tourist destinations, says GM of Bird Canada Alex Petre. In fact, more than 50% of e-scooter trips taken in Calgary last year ended in a Business Improvement Area (BIA) or Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ).

"That includes communities like Inglewood, Mission, Kensington, Stephen Avenue," she explains. "So people who are using the e-scooters actually end up spending money at local businesses, so that has a big impact and increased revenue for those businesses."

Not only does it help spur the city’s economy, it’s also just more convenient for Calgarians.

"Rather than jumping in the car and worrying about parking, you can take a scooter, grab your coffee, get a present for someone or go to dinner later in the evening. And you don't have to worry about your car, which is an added benefit," Petre adds.  

This year, the company is rolling out its all-new ‘Bird Two’ e-scooters, which feature thicker tire treads, better grip, and allows for a smoother ride.

"It’s the latest and greatest in terms of technology. So it has a much bigger battery for longer battery life, which means we're able to provide many more rides before having to charge it."

Also new this year is a partnership with the University of Calgary and University District, which is designed to improve transportation options for students.

"The university was almost worried we would deploy these scooters and they would sit there, but they flew off the campus right away," Petre says, adding there are preferred parking spots for scooters on campus.

Did you know it only costs about $10 to $12 bucks to ride from the University District to  Stephen Avenue? We didn’t either, but we’re into it!

Bird Canada is looking to help local tourism this summer by incorporating Calgary attractions in its app. Any business/attraction interested in being visible to Bird Canada Riders in Calgary can email.

COVID UPDATE
Calgary
  • 1,320 active / 93,688 total
  • 4 new deaths / 688 deaths total / 123 in hospital / 33 in ICU
Alberta (updates)
  • 165 new cases / 3,180 active / 230,436 total
  • 8 new deaths / 2,270 deaths / 225,013 recoveries
  • 3,384,026  total vaccines administered
  • Vaccinations: 58.5% partial (1 shot) / 17.2% full (2 shots)
CALGARY ROUNDUP
🍴 FOOD
Lina’s Italian Market has opened its 50th Ave. and Elbow Drive SW location. They have patios, pizza, pasta, and more; what more could you ask for?

OUTDOORS
The 40th annual Calgary Police Half Marathon is now open for registration. The event takes place October 3, 2021, and yes — this one is in person!

❤️ LOCAL LOVE
Alberta Natural Products has teamed up with Soap for Hope - YYC to make a difference. The organization takes donations and has a revamped wish list just waiting to be filled out.

👀 HAVE YOU HEARD?
Starting today, the Calgary Library will reopen 19 locations across the city now that restrictions have been eased. We can’t wait to get back into reading mode!

Tara Duncan in front of her signs.
FEATURED CALGARY CITIZEN
Tara Duncan // Founder of Sign Gypsies

Throughout the pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon to see celebratory lawn signs popping up around Calgary. Chances are if you're in the Cranston or Lake Chapel area it’s likely due to the work of Tara Duncan. With a mission to make a difference and celebrate the city’s unsung heroes, Tara launched her #kindnessmatters campaign in February where she leaves a love sign on someone’s lawn — and it’s up to them to nominate the next recipient. Currently, she’s brightened 90+ homes and counting!

Tell us something unique about your experience about living in Calgary:

"We loved our neighbourhood so much that we cried when we had to move back to BC. When we moved back to Calgary 3 years later we bought a house a block from our old one and didn’t even look in other communities — we’ve been back 12 years now and still love it!"

What made you and your family come to Calgary:

"We moved numerous times early on in our marriage and as we drove through Calgary on one of our moves I said to my husband ‘if we ever have the opportunity I wanted to move to Calgary’ — Four years later we got transferred here."

How are you involved in your community?

"I started a L❤️VE sign in February where we surprise nominated people with a sign and a bag of treats to brighten their day — and it’s been so well received. We started in Lake Chaparral and extended it quickly to Legacy, Cranston, and now Silverado. The communities have jumped at supporting my business after seeing all the signs throughout the neighbourhood. I also donate signs to the community for various events like Halloween, Easter Scavenger Hunts, or Stampede. I want to encourage others to spread some love through random acts as well!"

What does community mean to you?

"It’s a place where you feel safe, neighbours are always there for you, and people walk with heads held high and say ‘hello’ as you pass them on the street. Simply, neighbours helping each other!"

What does it mean to be a Calgarian?

"I think it means that you are accepting of everyone- no matter their race, religion, or how they identify. Calgarians are fiercely proud of their city (and Flames and Stampeders) and love a -40 sunny day as well as a +30 sunny day."

NOMINATE A CALGARY CITIZEN!
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