The majority of our food grows on farms in rural areas, yet food production can be a thriving part of urban environments as well. Historically, gardens were a prominent feature within cities, with many people relying on gardens to grow some of their own food. Changing urban culture and farming practices throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s made growing food in the city, and especially raising small livestock, less common.
In recent years, the re-emergence of urban agriculture has taken the world by storm. An increasing number of people are looking for ways to produce more of the food they eat in an effort to be more economical and health conscious, and to foster a deeper connection to food and to nature.
Growing food close to home contributes to a sustainable city. Not only does it shorten the distance that food travels but it can be leveraged for waste water management, soil remediation, and to improve biodiversity and pollinator habitats. People who grow food are more likely to see food as a resource and divert food waste from landfills to composting. Urban agriculture builds climate resiliency by reducing individual reliance on imported foods. And according to an increasing number of urban planners, bringing nature back into cities is essential to fostering sustainable urban ecosystems.
The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy is leading a community consultation process on backyard chicken policies to inform land use planning in Thunder Bay. Over the years there has been a significant amount of public interest in having this issue looked at. For this reason, the Food Strategy document and the Food Strategy's 2015 Implementation Plan both state that the Food Strategy will work towards developing policy that is supportive of urban agriculture practices, including backyard chickens.
So far a research project has been carried out that looks at current bylaws from other jurisdictions in Ontario and other major North American cities that have legalized chickens. A working group met to look at ways of advancing the issue locally.
You can learn more by visiting our page on backyard chickens including facts, a gallery of chicken coops, and online survey for public input.
In late June 2015, EcoSuperior installed a wood planter box next to the bus shelter in front of their office on Red River Road, enabling transit riders waiting for the bus to grab a healthy snack—a crunchy pea pod, mini cucumber or ripe tomato. The mini garden is cared for by EcoSuperior staff and supported by the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy. Thunder Bay Transit provided the signage and hopes to see the concept take root at other bus stops around the city.
Edible bus stop gardens are a concept that started in a high-risk neighbourhood in London, England in 2012 when a small group of urban interventionists began creating garden beds along one bus route. Pop-up urban agriculture is now being seen in other cities in the U.K. and North America.
On April 22, 2015, the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy, EarthCare Thunder Bay, and Roots to Harvest held an "Ideas to Action Cafe" for Thunder Bay residents interested in urban agriculture. The goal was to involve and support more people in transforming neighbourhoods, communities, and workplaces through small-scale urban agriculture interventions. At the event, participants had the chance to connect with different groups in the city, learn about funding opportunities, and hear feedback from respected community leaders, city staff, and others that would help move ideas into action.
You can download the post event summary for more details!