Canada: A National Strategy For Urban Agriculture 

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture comments on City Farmer’s plan “I will certainly consider the recommendations you have outlined in the enclosed publication as I pursue my mandate.” Laurence MacAulay, 2016.

By Michael Levenston
City Farmer Executive Director

Thirty-six years ago in 1980, City Farmer sent copies of its newspaper to Canada’s Members of Parliament to introduce them to the subject of urban agriculture. In January, 2016, we sent Federal Cabinet Ministers a 15 page booklet outlining a proposal which asks the new Government to consider setting up a National Office of Urban Agriculture.

“It’s a new year and time to put in place a program that will benefit all Canadians. We hope you will consider Canada: A National Strategy for Urban Agriculture as a worthy project for your new government. I’m certain it will be well received by Canadians who want to eat better, care for our environment, and improve our general well being.”

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Laurence MacAulay, wrote back expressing his appreciation for our work and commented positively about our plan “I will certainly consider the recommendations you have outlined in the enclosed publication as I pursue my mandate.”

Excerpt from the City Farmer booklet:

Over 26 million Canadians live in 147 metropolitan areas and agglomerations across the country with populations that range from 5,600,000 people in Toronto to 10,500 in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland.

How will the Federal Government encourage urban farming?

The Government will take a leadership role and validate urban agriculture.


1. Set up a Federal Office of Urban Agriculture
Staff will coordinate a national effort and provide data such as statistics on the number of people involved, amount of land available, and total produce grown.

2. Convene a Roundtable of Canadian Experts
Experts from across the country will provide the government with strategies to move urban agriculture forward. Many Canadians have years of experience in a variety of roles in this field.

3. Set Up a Model Food Garden on Parliament Hill
The garden will highlight the Government’s commitment to food gardens.

4. Set Up Demonstration Gardens in Canada’s largest Cities
The demonstration gardens will provide educational hubs for many thousands of people within large municipalities. Staff at the gardens will teach residents how to produce food using local resources and expertise.

5. Convene a National Conference on Urban Agriculture
The Federal Office of Urban Agriculture will invite Canadians to a national networking event. Food growers from home, school, rooftop and community gardens, as well as commercial urban farmers will learn from each other.

6. Publish a National Urban Agriculture Website
The website will provide resources for city farmers across the country. Publications, educational courses, sources of seeds, local municipal policies, and lists of community and school gardens are a few examples.

7. Co-ordinate Urban Agriculture Policies
The Federal Office will review policies for city food production, such as those related to beekeeping, chickens, the selling of produce, and tax breaks.

8. Fund Urban Agriculture Projects
There are many new urban agriculture technologies in development such as phone apps that show where produce can be purchased, websites that locate vacant urban land, and aquaponic systems for producing fish. Incentive funding will encourage entrepreneurs to continue their work .

9. Facilitate Urban – Rural Farmer Connections
By connecting urban and rural farmers, we can help urban residents better understand our Canadian agriculture and food system.

10. Facilitate Canadian – International Urban Agriculture Connections
Canadians can share our urban agriculture strategies with countries around the world and at the same time learn from them.

See the booklet – Canada: A National Strategy for Urban Agriculture.

Michael Levenston