September 2012

I’ve often heard people complain that fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive. They can be, but they don’t have to be. Here are some fantastic initiatives in Calgary where families can find affordable alternatives to buying produce at the grocery store.

Get involved in a community urban harvest! Find out how here.

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an opportunity to support and get a “share” of the crops that a local farm produces throughout the summer. Most shares for CSA’s go on sale in the spring, and some are full or have waiting lists. There are new farms that start up each year or are really new; call early to get on the list. You can also find a list of other CSA’s in this article over at Avenue Calgary.

Calgary Harvest

There are thousands of fruit trees all over Calgary in people’s private backyards. Not everyone has the time or energy to pick all their own fruit. Sometimes they do but there is just so much of it, a lot of it will go to waste. This is where Calgary Harvest comes in. Calgary Harvest helps facilitate a partnership between tree owners and volunteers to get fresh local fruit right from the tree to your child’s hands. They do this by having volunteers sign up and help pick fruit from mature fruit trees in older neighbourhoods that would otherwise go to waste or rot. Many of the trees in the city produce too much fruit and the owners can’t harvest and eat it all in time. It’s a win/win for everyone involved.

Good Food Box

Another great Calgary initiative is the Good Food Box. The GFB believes in providing healthy fresh attainable food to all Calgarians. They have three different sized boxes small for $25, Medium for $30 and Large for $35. The food is sourced from local distributors and delivered to a depot once a month in different communities around the city.

Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids Society

The Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society Food Access Truck believes that all children in Calgary have a right to fresh food and they help make that happen with a school lunch program and a grocery card for families program.

Local Food Coops

Last but not least, families in Calgary have the option of joining or starting a local Food Coop. This one takes a little work but the savings to your monthly grocery bill are huge. There are a few food coops that are already established, but starting your own is easy too. All you need is a group of friends who all like the same food, a couple hours a month and the website The way a food coop typically works is that the middle man is cut out. The coop owners request the catalog from the food distributor, members order directly from them (making sure that you meet the minimums), have someone put it on their credit card and provide a date that you would like to pick it up. Then you contact the shipping company that the distributor uses and schedule a time to pick it up. In my own food coop we order every second month and save 40% of our food costs. It is a little bit of work, but worth it in the end.

Contributed by Alisha Brignall, a Parent Educator, Baby Massage Instructor, Blogger, Homeschooler, Vegetarian and Writer.