Urban agriculture is the cultivation, processing or distribution of food in and around cities. It often involves applying intensive production methods in smaller spaces and (re)using natural resources and urban wastes to yield a diversity of crops. Urban agriculture can be undertaken in back or front yard gardens, rooftop gardens, community gardens, urban farms, hydroponics, and aquaponics. It can take place on residential property, institutional properties, schoolyards, City of Edmonton parkland, transportation right-of-ways, vacant lots, and more!
You asked. We answered! Find answers to your questions on the Vacant Lot Cultivation Licence and urban agriculture on City-owned land.
In Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw, there are 3 categories of urban agriculture:
Urban agriculture is different from rural agriculture in that it often occurs on sites where your neighbours are close by. This means carrying out activities in a way that minimizes negative impacts on your neighbours. You must carry out your activities in a way that complies with Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw, Section 9.8.
Urban Gardens means the cultivation and harvesting of plant and/or animal products in urban areas for the primary purpose of beautification, education, recreation, or social or community programming.
Accessory buildings or structures may include hen enclosures, or those used for the operation of the site and the extension of the growing season, such as coldframes, hoophouses and greenhouses. On-site sales and processing of plants or animal products are prohibited. Accessory activities may include outdoor storage or composting of plants grown on-site. Typical activities include community gardens. This use does not include Livestock Operations, Rural Farms, Recreational Acreage Farms, Urban Indoor Farm or Urban Outdoor Farms. Edmonton Zoning Bylaw 12800, 7.8 Community, Educational, Recreational and Cultural Service Uses, 7.8(18).
Urban Outdoor Farms means the cultivation and harvesting of plant and/or animal products in urban areas, primarily as an interim use on idle or under-used land for the primary purpose of wholesale or retail sales.
Cultivation and harvesting may occur within unenclosed structures primarily lit by natural light and used for the extension of the growing season, such as coldframes and hoophouses. Accessory structures may include hen enclosures or those used for the operation of the site. Accessory activities may include on-site sales, composting of plants grown on-site, or outdoor storage. This use does not include Livestock Operations, Rural Farms, Recreational Acreage Farms, Urban Indoor Farms or Urban Gardens. Edmonton Zoning Bylaw 12800, 7.6 Agricultural and Natural Resource Development Uses, 7.6(6).
Urban Indoor Farms means the cultivation and harvesting of plant and/or animal products primarily within enclosed buildings for the primary purpose of wholesale or retail sales.
Accessory activities may include on-site sales, composting of plants grown on-site, outdoor storage, and food packaging and processing. Typical activities include vertical farms, hydroponic systems and aquaponic systems. This use does not include Livestock Operations, Rural Farms, Recreational Acreage Farms, Urban Outdoor Farms, Urban Gardens or the cultivation or growth of cannabis. Edmonton Zoning Bylaw 12800, 7.5 Industrial Uses, 7.5(6)
A vacant lot is classified as a registered lot (serviced and unserviced) that contains no permanent structures at the time of inspection. It generally does not include land development for parks, transportation or utility purposes.
A community garden is land developed as flower or vegetable gardens for community use. Community gardens are operated by community organizations that determine how the venture will function (for example, plot size and plot assignment). A Community Garden is a group of people coming together to nurture, develop, and sustain a growing space in their community. This type of garden reflects the area it serves; engaging, educating, building and strengthening community in a significant way. There are over 90 community garden sites now operating throughout the Capital region promoting local, organically grown food; healthy and active lifestyles; and safer, more vibrant and connected communities.
The goal is to pilot an approach to stewarding City-owned land through urban agricultural uses, in ways that:
- Identify opportunities for idle or under-used City-owned land
- Respond to citizen demand for access to land for food production
- Encourage urban agriculture activities that benefit the surrounding neighbourhoods; support environmental and financial stewardship, and support access to fresh food and food knowledge for neighbourhood residents
- Support urban biodiversity and pollinator habitat
- Provide educational, social and recreational opportunities for residents
- Support urban regeneration
Urban agriculture activities can involve commercial activities or the building, modification or maintenance of infrastructure such as greenhouses, hoop houses, polytunnels, tool sheds, covered areas, hen enclosures, walk-in coolers, root cellars, tents or other types of covered areas.
Depending on your project, you may need to apply for a development permit, a building permit or a business licence. These permits and licences will come with additional costs. Other permits that may be required depending on the nature of your project are: electrical, sign or plumbing permits.
To find out if you need a development or building permit, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311
- You will need a development permit if any of these apply to you:
- You are growing a fruit or vegetable garden in an industrial zone
- You plan to sell produce on-site
- You are growing fruits and vegetables indoors, inside a commercial or industrial building
- You may need a building permit if you have a structure on site that is over 10 square metres
- You may need a business permit if you plan to sell your products. Contact Open Window for one-on-one support for small businesses
This supports the goals of fresh: Edmonton’s Food & Urban Agriculture Strategy, Breathe and the Way We Green, including:
- Strategic Direction 3: Expand urban agriculture
- Strategic Direction 6: Enliven the public realm through a diversity of food activities
- Strategic Direction 8: Support urban farmers and ecological approaches to farming
The City may license space that is not currently needed for civic purposes. Listings are updated regularly as space becomes available. Visit edmonton.ca/leasing to view all other currently available properties.
The City of Edmonton provides this information in good faith. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this map, the City of Edmonton provides no warranty, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness or correctness of information contained herein. The City of Edmonton disclaims any liability for the use of this information. No part of this material may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without acknowledgment.