World’s Most Sweeping Urban Food Vision

Touch the Soil News #536

Strathcona County, located in central Alberta, Canada, is for most of the world not the center of attention. However, this small county of 100,000 inhabitants has decided to rethink its food future in a major way. It would set an example that could attract international attention.

What makes Strathcona County different, is the sweeping changes it has identified for potential incorporation into local laws. If Strathcona County moves on its visions, it will be one of the most sweeping remakes of a community in modern world history.

Following is an outline of the proposed actions:


Action #1 – Community Gardens

  • Amend land-use laws to include “Community Garden” as a defined land use
  • A County-led community garden initiative with the County provide public land access
  • County promotion and Support for independent community gardens


Action #2 – Public Agriculture and Edible Landscaping

  • Amend Land-use laws to include “Public Agriculture” as a defined land use
  • Include edibles in regional-park planning
  • Develop an Adopt-a-Plot initiative to establish edible and pollinator-supporting public orchards and food forests in public spaces, for shared public harvest
  • Mapping of edible trees and shrubs in the public realm
  • Develop signage identifying edible plants


Action #3 – Urban Farms

  • Add urban farming definitions to the land use bylaw
  • Develop a County-supported youth farming and entrepreneurship program with a place-making urban focus
  • Develop a campaign to promote and support urban farming in Strathcona County


Action #4 – School Agriculture Program

  • Foster growing opportunities at every school in the County
  • Increase educational opportunities around urban agriculture, technology and entrepreneurship in schools


Action #5 Urban Livestock – Chickens, Pets, Bees

  • Pilot project for urban backyard chickens
  • Replace current Animal Control Bylaw with new separate bylaws: revised Animal Control (for livestock) and Alternative Pets
  • Bee Healthy Strathcona County: Revise planting guidelines to incorporate pollinator habitat into ornamental landscapes.
  • Bee Healthy Strathcona County: Beehives installed as demonstration projects in lower-traffic areas
  • Bee Healthy Strathcona County: Amend Apiculture Bylaw to allow demonstration beehives in additional land use districts


Action #6 – Home Gardens

  • Promotion and advocacy around residential gardening opportunities
  • Share programs and courses on home gardening across the community


Action #7 – Education and Coordination

  • Structured stakeholder conversations on key implementation areas of the Urban Agriculture Strategy
  • Education in all actions

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