A decentralized, hyper-local model for managing waste, creating soil, growing food and working together.
This is the vision that drove a group of Calgary food and environment stewards to partner with the Compost Council of Canada when the opportunity at Highfield arose.
Their proposal was largely focused on the revitalization of the land through regenerative farming practices and soil building, all for the goal of growing nutrient dense food and creating a safe and vibrant community space. The City of Calgary accepted the proposal, and after a couple of years of paperwork and permitting, Highfield Farm officially opened in 2019.
Highfield Farm is located on a 15-acre piece of underutilized space in the industrial area of the City of Calgary. Although previously used as a site for the Blackfoot Farmers' Market, it had since spent nearly a decade lying vacant. It is now seeing new life in a community of groups, businesses and individuals who contribute to the development of the gardens, park spaces, composting efforts, education and more
Highfield Farm is a project of the Compost Council of Canada and the City of Calgary. Through land revitalization, regenerative food and community building, Highfield Farm is transitioning an underutilized brownfield site into and active urban community farm hub.
Highfield Farm is in a unique position to revitalize the land due to our location in the industrial part of Calgary and the nature of the site.
The property had laid vacant for many years, allowing for illegal dumping and a large population of invasive weeds to take over. Cleaning up waste, removing invasive species and nurturing pre-existing native ones is a large part of our revitalization strategy.
Currently, growing is limited to above ground. Primary testing has revealed the soil looks clean, though very degraded and void of life and nutrients. To accommodate the restrictions, and begin building soil, the growing spaces are covered with a thick layer of mulch before soil is brought in for beds.
Regenerative Agriculture is an approach to farming that conserves and enhances the natural environment as we produce food. Regenerative Agriculture is inherently Indigenous in that it takes a holistic approach and considers the care of the entire ecosystem.
At Highfield Farm we employ several regenerative methods including: water conservation; no-till farming, planting cover crops, companion planting, encouraging diversity in our gardens and our wider site, using only compost and compost teas to feed our gardens.
We recognize that we are part of the larger natural system and we respect and honour the natural processes that exist and help us to be successful in growing nutrient dense, healthful, foods.
Highfield Farm strives to be an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. We offer several options for people to be involved and utilize the farm site.
Our community follows a membership model to foster a sense of ownership among our participants. We are not only creating a community of individuals who are eager to grow communally and learn together, we are also creating space for urban farmers to support one another and participate in a collaborative option for inner-city growing.
We are also committed to donating a large portion of our produce to food access in Calgary. We recognize that food insecurity is a major issue in our city, and are able to provide fresh, whole, healthy foods to our community.
Founding Co-Farmer and Compost Kid
Mike Dorion has been making healthy compost and educating about soil biology for more than 7 years. His company, Living Soil Solutions, provides compost, compost extracts, consulting and educational programming to a variety of residential and commercial customers, community groups, and schools in Alberta and Canada. Living Soil Solutions is currently supplying compost services to many local urban and rural farmers.
Founding Co-Farmer and Do-It-All Dude
Jeremy Zoller specializes in edible landscapes, gardens and food forests through his company Sunshine Earth Works. He is an experienced finishing carpenter and has been working with several key local landscape and project management professionals for years. Jeremy has also co-managed a greenhouse heirloom tomato operation and has extensive board and volunteer experience in the local arts and culture scene.
Founding Co-Farmer and Cool Stuff Acquisitions
Jay Fish has extensive experience in a great many things; construction landscape, earth works, plumbing, drain cleaning, site and spill clean-up, waste collection and disposal, permaculture design and commercial greenhouse production to name a few. His intimate knowledge of safe handling procedures and disposal protocols for many waste streams perfectly compliment his current passion for closing said waste streams.
Operations Manager and Hype Squad
Heather Ramshaw has a background in community development and organic agriculture. She has a Bachelor of Environment, Honours International Development, but quickly, and permanently, fell into the food world after graduating and realizing what she truly loved was eating, and eating with others. Although organization and coordination come naturally to her, local resilient foods are her ultimate life objective.
Highfield Farm is a project of the Compost Council of Canada. They advocate for, and advance organics recycling and compost use. Their support is the foundation of all operations at Highfield Farm and our focus on soil building and high quality composting.
City of Calgary's Food Action Plan builds on community-led efforts to create a healthy, equal and sustainable food system. Highfield Farm is located on City of Calgary property and aims to demonstrate how to successfully transition underutilized land into active green spaces for the specific use of urban agriculture.
We are a Good Food Organization under the Community Food Centres Umbrella. By working together through a set of shared principles, the Good Food Organizations initiative connects like-minded organizations across Canada and beyond in a collective commitment to achieving a healthy and fair food system.
In the Media
Calgary Citizen | "Highfield Regenerative Farm is making history in Calgary"
Calgary Herald | "Urban farmers break ground on 15 acres of vacant city land"