Grow Calgary is a registered non-profit community farm dedicated to growing fresh produce. We spoke with Shannon Krochenski to find out more about them.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences:
Grow Calgary is a registered non-profit community farm dedicated to growing fresh produce for vulnerable people in Calgary and surrounding communities. We donate 100% of the produce we grow to social agencies with food access programs. Our mission is to: Grow People, Grow Food, and Grow Calgary.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Food insecurity, sustainable urban agriculture, community building and farming education.
When did you start/join it?
I joined the Grow Calgary organization in 2016 as a general volunteer, since then I have supported the organization with various positions such as marketing, communications and event planning.
What made you want to get involved?
Initially, what motivated me to join the Grow Calgary organization was having the opportunity to support the local Calgary community and give back to those that may not have access to health food, while also allowing me to get my hands dirty in the process, and learning about sustainable urban agriculture. But as I have become more involved over the years I have become increasingly excited about supporting the organization, by joining the Grow Calgary community I have had the opportunity to work and learn from any amazing network of passionate volunteers who are very passionate about food production and gardening. Lastly, as an environmental engineer, I am really passionate about the environment and I have been actively seeking opportunities to learn about sustainable agricultural practices, and how we as a society can work towards increasing our food production to meet the needs of a growing global population while also minimizing our environmental impacts during the process. It has been extremely motivating to see these sustainable farming techniques in action at Grow Calgary, albeit at a small scale, but any small improvement to minimize our environmental footprint such as rainwater collection, waste minimization, composting, is a small stop in the right direction.
What was the situation like when you started?
Since 2013, the Grow Calgary Farm was located just below Canada Olympic Park on the west-side of the city. During this time the farm was quite well established with infrastructure in place to support our growing production such as greenhouses, earth dome and a hydroponics system. However, this was all brought to an abrupt ending when the farm was forced to relate to do the construction of the ring road in 2018. Since then, we have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to start fresh, and we have had new located donated to the organization by a generous volunteer, and as a result we are very excited to have the opportunity to re-build the farm and start fresh. Last year was the first year we operated the farm at our new location near the Cross Iron Mills and we made some very significant progress. Although the thought of starting the farm from scratch was very daunting, we are so thankful to have the opportunity to start fresh in a larger location where we have lots of room to grow.
How has it changed since?
In addition to continuing to grow and develop the farm at our new location, we have new welcomed the addition of many new animals on the farm through our farm animal rescue program. Furry friends such as sheep, chickens, ducks, pigs, horses, and goats have been added to the mix and we are happy to offer these animals a safe home. With the addition of this new program there have been some additional challenges associated with feeding and caring for the animals, but we are thankful to have the support of our many volunteers to help with food donations and animal care. We are also looking forward to the additional benefits that these animals bring to our farming operation, such as compost.
What more needs to be done?
We are thankful for our supportive community of volunteers and sponsors who are committed to ensuring we achieve our goal, to ensure all residents of Calgary and the surrounding area, have consistent access to healthy, local food. We would not be where we are with the generosity of our volunteers and supporting organizations and we will be continuing to partner with these groups into the future. Ultimately, our goal is to support as many people as we can, however this depends on how much produce we are able to grow, and how many volunteers we have to support us. We are continually seeking opportunities to establish partnerships with corporations, schools and other non-profit organizations to improve our outreach. In addition, we are continually looking for opportunities to increase our production, as well as prolong our production throughout the winter months through the incorporation of green houses and aquaponic systems.
How can our readers help?
Whether you have a passion for agriculture or animals, or you are handy with a computer or camera, we are looking for any support we can find. At Grow Calgary, we have several on the farm and off the farm volunteer positions available. We have daily volunteer positions for support on the farm, or helping to care for our rescue animals. Our on the farm general volunteer schedule is outlined below. There is something at Grow Calgary for everybody! Note: Drop-ins are also welcome.
Volunteer Registration Information:
1. Register for on the farm volunteer shifts here.
2. Register for off the farm volunteer shifts here.
• Afternoon: 11AM-3PM
• Morning: 9AM- 12PM
• Early Afternoon: 12PM – 3PM
• Late Afternoon: 3PM – 6PM
Do you have any events coming up?
Kits4Kids Preparation Event: Preparing gardening kits for kids to take home and learn about where their food comes from. Register
Kits4Kids Fundraiser: Purchase a gardening kit for $20 to support the Grow Calgary Farm. Register
Spring Kick-off Event: Planting seedings to support early germination on the farm. We are looking for volunteers to take home seeds and start seedlings at their home to help us kick-off the 2022 Growing Season. Register
Greenhouse Building Event: We are looking to build greenhouses with donated windows. Each weekend throughout the month of May we will be constructing. Dust off your tool belt and come help us raise the roof on indoor farming. Register
Farm Animal Care Training Sessions: Learn how to care for our rescue animals on the farm with our monthly training sessions. Register
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?