Founded in 2011, Grow Calgary is a non-profit organization that embodies the true spirit of giving back. With a mission to combat food insecurity, this organization has made a significant impact on the local community. Operating solely on donations and the dedication of volunteers, Grow Calgary cultivates a wide variety of crops on its farm, nurturing the land naturally and without the use of harmful pesticides. The volunteer-and-donation-run organization donate 100% of everything they grow in order to provide fresh, nutritious food to those who need it. We sat down with one of the farm managers, Gabriella, to learn more about Grow Calgary’s approach to tackling hunger.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
We are a non-profit community farm that donates 100% of what we grow to local food access programs like community fridges and kitchens, shelters, and food hamper programs. We utilize agroecology farming practices and advocate for system-level change to address food insecurity in our communities. We are mainly volunteer-run and provide education on food insecurity and small-scale farm management.
What problem does it aim to solve?
We aim to ensure that everyone has dignified access to food, provide accessible small-scale farm management education, and improve our local food system.
When did you start/join it?
I joined Grow Calgary during their 2020 spring/summer season.
What made you want to get involved?
I was working as a nurse in the hospital during 2020 and I wanted to feel connected to my community despite the circumstances and learn new skills unrelated to my work. Being outside, connecting with the land while also contributing to the community. The concept of the organization and the methods used to grow the produce were of interest to me as well.
What was the situation like when you started?
When I started, the farm had just moved to a new location and was essentially starting over. From building new beds, setting up the water systems and organizing the farm, there was a lot of prep work when I first began to volunteer.
How has it changed since?
Now, the farm has grown in size and in production, we donated 700kg of food last season. We have streamlined many practices at the farm and organizational needs, as well as written down more detailed plans for the growing season. We have also hosted many more volunteer teams and groups at the farm and enhanced our small-scale farm management curriculum.
What more needs to be done?
We need to find a more permanent home for the farm and our organization, as we will need to move again at the end of this summer. We also need more volunteers to get involved and help us at the farm, and monetary donations to keep our farm going. From a system-level perspective, we need more advocacy and policies to ensure everyone can access dignified food and shelter, and the ability to learn how to grow food and participate in the local food system. As well, more programming for young people to learn and potentially pursue a career in agriculture.
How can our readers help?
Sign up to volunteer, either as an individual or book a group visit with us – companies, organizations, groups of any sort and schools are welcome to come to the farm. Donate to our organization, we are a small team of volunteers with a tiny budget that just covers our operating costs. As we do not sell any of the produce we grow and donate it all, we rely on the generosity of others to keep our organization operating.
Do you have any events coming up?
We don’t have any events planned right now, but stay tuned for upcoming events! Also, you can always sign up and volunteer with us.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
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