Support for Urban Agriculture from the Ground Up: Canada’s Parliament Gardens

From foodtank.com, by Kathryn Chiffer
Support for Urban Agriculture from the Ground Up: Canada’s Parliament Gardens

In 2013, Canada converted the grounds of its Québec Parliament Building to a garden. Government officials partnered with Québec City’s Université Laval, a public university, and France, Québec, and Montreal’s Les Urbainculteurs, an organization working to empower Canadians of all ages to pursue organic, urban agricultural projects.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly one billion people practice urban agriculture across the globe. The FAO says that the benefits of urban agriculture range from increased availability of nutritionally dense foods to economic security for city dwellers. Also, the FAO says that this type of farming preserves the environment and its resources. For example, the proximity of crops to their consumers can decrease both transportation costs and carbon dioxide emissions. 

Marie Eisenmann of Urbainculteurs, an urban agricultural organization that provides the public and private sectors—such as hotels, restaurants, and rooftops—with turnkey gardens, praises the efforts of its partner, the Canadian government, “This [Québec Parliament Building garden] is a message that it sends to Québec, it is a message that it sends to the world in general as to say yes, urban agriculture is something we recognize and yes, it’s interesting. Let’s put your hands in the earth.”

According to the Assemblée Nationale Québec, the Parliament Gardens consist of “in-ground and raised garden beds of edible plants.” Some of the city’s indigenous plants are grown on the grounds. Crop selection includes blueberries, grape vines, and greens. In addition, there are beehives atop the Jean-Antoine Panet building.    

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, writes in the Minister’s Message of the 2016–2017 Report on Plans and Priorities:

“Canada's farmers, food processors and the rest of the agriculture and food industry are vital for our economy. Canada's agriculture and food industry is well positioned for continued success. Global demand is growing for food, and Canada's skilled farmers and food processors can meet that demand with high-quality, competitive, world-class products. Over the coming fiscal year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's priorities will help drive a competitive and market-oriented agriculture and agri-food sector that proactively manages risk. Key focus areas will include market access and development, science and innovation, the environment and business risk management.”

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