Thanks to recent changes in the City of London By-laws, growing food on urban land just got a lot easier. This short guide will bring you through the A-B-C’s of urban agriculture and how it applies to you, your family, and your community at large. There are plenty of great reasons to begin growing fruits and vegetables at home, from reduced grocery costs to increased nutritional value in the fresh food; but how can one do this reliably when it snows six months a year?
Assess Your Space
One of the major changes is the recognition of “Urban Agriculture” and its application to all areas within the City of London’s urban growth boundary. This allows for the growing of food on lands, in greenhouses and shipping containers, within buildings and on rooftops throughout the city.*
If you have a large plot of land in your backyard, you may be able to build a greenhouse up to 200m2 with a streamlined scoped site plan process, reducing the submission requirements to avoid unnecessary studies being prepared. Shipping containers may also be converted and used in all areas of the city to grow food; however, a more detailed site plan approval is required. See the MLFPC website for a breakdown on the limitations to greenhouse and shipping container locations.
Bloom with a Buddy
Once you have a garden space located, research what plants will thrive in that given location. Consider the amount of sunlight, water, and space your plants will need when configuring your garden. Companion Planting is an easy and effective way to boost your garden’s output and naturally protect it from bugs; check out the Farmers’ Almanac for a chart of different vegetables that grow well together!
If you support urban agriculture, but simply don’t have the space or time to maintain a garden, consider planting a pollinator garden on your property. These low-maintenance gardens provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies and help keep their populations healthy. The David Suzuki website has curated a list of native plants that thrive in these gardens!
Compost Your Waste
Organic yard and kitchen waste make up about 30% of the waste disposed of by Canadian households. (Source: Taking stock: Reducing food loss and waste in Canada – Canada.ca)
Composting this waste can make a nutritious meal for your gardens while saving you space in your garbage can. Improperly disposed of food waste produces harmful greenhouse gases over time but is avoided when composting. Soil from compost is full of organic nutrients for plants and has high water-retention ability, making your gardens more drought-resistant.
The City of London sells composting bins at each Enviro Depot location, starting from $20 each (taxes included). See the City of London Enviro Depot website to learn about compostable vs. non-compostable materials!
This blog post is part of “Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw – A Collaborative Series”. View other blog posts in the series at mlfpc.ca/blog
Would you want to be a future collaborator on this series? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and include “ATTN: Request to Collaborate on Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw!” in your subject line.