Spring is sprung: CIES students visit GROW Calgary

Click here to view more pictures from the field trip.

Last Wednesday, April 12, clients and teachers participating in our GROW program had the opportunity to tour the biggest urban farm in Canada at GROW Calgary. The farm has a footprint of 11 acres – which is equal to 479,160 square feet, if you’re a numbers person, or, for the rest of us, 11 million potential future carrots per season. Needless to say, they have the opportunity to do a lot of good work for the city, and they don’t disappoint. Located in northwest Calgary near Canada Olympic Park, GROW Calgary was started with the belief that all Calgarians should have access to healthy, local food. The farm shares its produce with compassionate food agencies throughout the city and develops programs that share the benefits of local, sustainable food production with participants. CIES’ own GROW participants toured the site to learn about the farm’s daily operations and what it takes to produce on such a large scale.

Many of CIES’ GROW program participants were farmers or come from an agricultural background in their home countries, so the opportunity to learn about gardening in Calgary’s notoriously variable climate (and higher altitude) was a valuable one. Students toured the farm’s operations, including an earthship/greenhouse, and learned about the hydroponics system that allows GROW to harvest produce year round with minimal water waste. While CIES’ own GROW project will operate on a much smaller scale this summer, the tour was a great opportunity to explore the possibilities of farming and gardening in Calgary. One of the farm’s best takeaways? Invest very little to reap a lot.

Back at CIES, spring planting is well underway indoors and our raised garden beds are on their way to being built. Soil arrived last week and the city has been receiving a healthy amount of rain for this time of the year – farmers across the province have their fingers crossed that this signals a return to more normal summer weather than we have seen in the recent past. While outdoor planting won’t begin until mid-May, if you would like more general information about this program or its current activities, please contact Cesar Suva at cesarsuva@immigrant-education.ca.

This program is generously funded by:


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