Metro/Katie Turner Calgarian Paul Hughes plans to use provincial land just west of Canada Olympic Park to grow 100,000 lbs of produce for the Calgary Food Bank.

The Calgary Food Bank could see an influx of fresh produce coming their way should a new initiative take root in Calgary’s northwest.

Urban farming advocate Paul Hughes has been working with the province to utilize a section of land along a transportation utility corridor just west of Canada Olympic Park that would become Grow Calgary.

“My dream is that we should be using this empty space to grow a lot of food and if we can grow it for the food bank, that would be great,” said Hughes.

His goal is to till a 100 by 100 m area in the coming weeks and plant a wide variety of vegetables including lettuce, tomatoes, kale and carrots, with the intention of donating 100,000 lbs. over the course of the summer.

Calgary Food Bank president and CEO James McAra said the idea of Grow Calgary is “cutting edge” and could make a huge difference in the lives of the people they support.

“We’ve long struggled with getting fresh food to the places it needs to go,” he said.

McAra said he sees huge potential in utilizing unoccupied land in the city, and added Hughes’ offer to grow, harvest and deliver the food could make a big difference in many Calgarians’ lives.

“That’s 100,000 lbs. of fresh food that we know is going to be looked after.”

Jeannie Smith, press secretary for Minister of Infrastructure Wayne Drysdale, said the ministry is supportive of the project and working with Hughes to get it off the ground.

“Our departmental officials are waiting for the appropriate paperwork to be in place before this project proceeds,” she said in an email. “We hope to have all the information in the next couple of weeks – in time for this year’s growing season.”

Hughes said, ultimately, he believes everyone is entitled to quality food.

“It’s not just good food if you can afford it, it’s good food regardless of your income level. That’s food justice.”

To get involved:

  • The Calgary Food Bank will weigh the produce, according to Hughes, to see if they reach their 100,000 lbs target.
  • Grow Calgary is looking for help in planting, as well as donations of seeds and plants.
  • To volunteer or donate, visit the Grow Calgary Facebook page.

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