Have you ever heard of urban agriculture? And if you have heard of it, have you ever considered getting involved in local urban agriculture activities?
Urban agriculture is growing food in or around cities, towns or smaller communities. Some examples include backyard gardens, beehives, berry patches, shared gardens, container gardening, edible landscaping, greenhouse agriculture, herb gardens, urban farms, orchards and vineyards, rooftop gardens and schoolyard gardens.
Urban agriculture activities help communities in a variety of ways, including connecting neighbours socially and helping people to choose local foods and prepare them in healthy ways.
Municipal governments can be a great help when it comes to creating and sustaining urban agriculture activities. Policies and guidelines can support urban agriculture (for example, bylaws allowing community gardens on city-owned land and planting fruit trees as part of an community forestry plan). Municipal governments can also show their support with planning policies that preserve urban farm land (farms that operate inside towns and cities).
Municipal governments and other community organizations can support urban agriculture activities with funds and resources, such as land, water supply, tax relief and gardening tools.
The benefits of urban agriculture include:
providing a place for people to gather; reducing social isolation and improving well-being.
keeping money spent on food in the community, which supports local farms and others in the food sector by creating jobs, income and security;
making healthy foods more available;
increasing the number of vegetables and fruit people eat, which is an important part of a healthy diet;
reducing greenhouse gases and improving air quality when people buy and eat local foods in season; and
supporting people to engage in a healthy, active lifestyle.
The City of Barrie has 2 community gardens at present and plans to create another one in a Barrie park that will be opened in 2019. For more information about rental and registration at the current gardens, as well as updates about the garden to be created in 2019, visit their website. Urban Pantry Barrie is happy to support the City of Barrie is creating a new garden for the community to use and enjoy.
Did you know that there are also four food forests in Barrie that the community is welcome to enjoy? They are at Coulter Street Garden, Leacock Park, Sunnidale Park, and Shear Park. Many young fruit trees have been planted in these food forests, including apple, pear, cherry, plum, apricot, pawpaw, serviceberry, and currant trees/shrubs. These food forests were put in with the help of the City of Barrie and FruitShare Barrie (a program of Urban Pantry Barrie), Barrie Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Barrie, as well as many interested citizens.
FruitShare Barrie is always looking for volunteers to be on the stewardship team, which involves checking on the trees and doing some basic tree care. If you are interested in volunteering, you can email FruitShare.Barrie@gmail.com or call 705-715-2255.
If you are interested in taking part in other urban agriculture activities or learning more about Urban Pantry Barrie, visit the website.