NorthEast River Crossing Update
As many of you know, we’ve been very involved in the politics surrounding the development of our neighbourhood, the Horse Hills. While we’re happy to be farming inside of the city limits of Edmonton, this proximity comes with it’s own set of challenges and concerns. In case you aren’t familiar with the ongoing development saga of the NorthEast, you can brush up here on the plans and projects involved in the Area Structure Plan as well as the proposed provincial highway crossing in our area.
After months of meetings and research, late in 2017, the Northeast River Crossing Planning Project Committee came out with six options for the proposed highway crossing in the Horse Hills. These options bring both good news and bad news. The good news is that not a single option proposes to cross Riverbend Gardens’ land. In the years leading up to this study we were always lead to believe that the highway would inevitably cross our land and make RBG a non-viable agricultural producer. We can hardly express our relief at seeing these options steer clear of our fields.
The bad news is, that this is not the case for all agricultural producers in the area who want to continue to farm in this area. Our neighbour, Norbest Farms, grow seed potatoes and have done so on their land for over 40 years. Being our next door neighbour their fields share many of the same qualities our land has which makes it exceptional agricultural land. Their proximity to the river, the micro-climate and the quality of the soil make their fields very valuable growing land and well worth preserving. It’s the kind of land that you just can’t replicate.
Only one of the six highway placement options avoids Norbest Farm’s land in favour of non-production land. This option is designated as “S2N3”. And while none of the proposed options actually cross Riverbend land, by far the best option for us is S2N3 as well. It keeps the highway a little further away from our fields (rather than running right beside them), doesn’t bisect any farms (no one wants farm equipment crossing a high speed highway) and creates a natural barrier between planned future residential spaces and agricultural operations. You can see all the options below to get a better understanding of the proposed crossings at this time.
S1 Highway Options
S2 Highway Options
This is where you come in, because after all, it is not farmers who will be able to save their farms, but rather, a community of people dedicated to protecting agricultural land in the Edmonton area. The best part is that right now, it’s really easy to show your support. All you need to do is to let the Northeast River Crossing Planning Study members know where you stand and what you’d like to see as the next steps arising from this study.
We encourage you to email:
Public Engagement Lead, CAROL CRAIG (email@example.com) and
Project Manager, CHRISTOPHER WINTLE (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to tell them that you support the S2N3 highway crossing option because you value local farmers and preserving agricultural land is important to you.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
The Northeast River Crossing Functional Planning Study
Some of you may have already been Riverbend followers/supporters three years ago when we attended the Area Structure Plan for Horse Hill at City Hall. For those of you who weren’t or don’t know much about this issue, how it affects Riverbend’s land and how we’re trying to fight against having our land expropriated for the highway/bridge project, I recommend you take a quick glance at our re-cap of where things stand as of Feb 2016 and the associated links that help give context to the issue.
That brings us to this week when we received some news from the Northeast River Crossing Project Team about concrete plans and timelines. In a letter to landowners, the team told us that the bridge and associated road constructions are expected to be constructed in 25-30 years. Now, this may seem like a long way off. In fact, we’d hope to be helping a new generation of farmers taking over Riverbend Gardens in 25-30 years. The problem is that, if this highway and bridge go across Riverbend’s land, that will not be a possibility.
Right now, the Northeast River Crossing Project Team is conducting a planning study where they will examine the options for the proposed highway. This gives us hope that we can provide decision makers with the information they need about Riverbend to understand that a highway and bridge over our land will have devastating consequences for our business, the Edmonton food scene and local food security. While the construction of a bridge may be 25-30 years in the future, the planning study to confirm it’s location is happening NOW. In fact, the presentation of feasible options and recommendation of alignment will be happening already in autumn 2017. This is a short window for us to make sure the planning study takes into consideration the value of local agricultural land and for that we need your help.
In order to prove the impact of RBG and the importance of local food continuing to be available in our community for future generations, we need you to you use your voice in this civic process.
We are asking for you to do as many of the following as possible:
Call your MLA, City Councillor or MLA Brian Mason (Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure).
Speaking to your elected representatives to tell them what you care about is proved to be the most effective means of influence. (you could use these talking points when speaking with them to help give context to your concerns)
Write a letter to and email your MLA, your City Councillor or MLA Brian Mason (you could even use this sample letter).
Call or write the Northeast River Crossing Functional Planning Team:
Manager/Engineer: Christopher Wintle (780-496-1792, email 1, email 2)
Manager/Engineer: Tony Maghee (780-464-8035, email)
Engineer: Julian Macdonald (email)
(you could consider using this sample letter to make your concerns heard).
Attend the public meetings to engage with the planning team directly:
April 19 4-8pm @ Bethel Lutheran Church 298 Bethel Drive, Sherwood Park
April 20 3-8pm @ Horse Hill School, 19355 Meridian Street NW
If you have ANY questions or concerns about how you can help and any more information you need, don’t hesitate to give us a shout.
EALT Conservation Easement
Some of you may be familiar with Lady Flower Gardens, the community organization that operates on Riverbend Gardens’ land and aims to connect inner-city agencies with agriculture and food. Recently they’ve begun campaigning to fund a conservation easement for the land through the Edmonton Area Land Trust.
Riverbend Gardens has always been a strong proponent of land stewardship and we applaud any efforts that work towards keeping agricultural land active and vibrant in our community. However, right now all of Riverbend’s energy and resources are directed at countering the threat of expropriation by the province for the northeast river crossing project.
While an easement can be a great step towards ensuring that agricultural land remains agricultural land under private ownership, an easement WILL NOT protect the land from expropriation for the Northeast River Crossing Project. An easement may actually make the land more vulnerable to expropriation because it will cost the province up to 80% less to expropriate land under an easement, so we are not able to support the campaign to fund the EALT easement.
Our funds and resources are currently focused on working to ensure that decision makers have all the information they need about Riverbend Gardens land to ensure that the northeast river crossing project doesn’t doesn’t destroy all of our preservation efforts and there will be agricultural land here in the future to be preserved by an EALT easement.
The Politics of Farming: Bill 6
With an incredible amount of response to the recently passed Bill 6 by our provincial government it’s unlikely you haven’t heard at least something about how this legislation will affect agriculture in Alberta. However, much of the response surrounding this bill comes from a place of extreme emotion and partisan politicking.
We want to help our community understand the why and how of these changes within a context of fact and civic participation.
The Politics of Farming: Municipal Development
If you’ve been a part of the RBG community for a while now you’ll know that the area of Edmonton we farm in (Horse Hills), is the site of some major planned development. The thing about development is that it takes a lot of time and process for things to move forward. In addition to this, the Horse Hills is a diverse area that contains many stakeholders, many viewpoints and a lot of recent municipal planning history.
A Rainbow of Squash
It is full out squash season and we have a variety of squash sizes, shapes and varieties to suit all your autumn squash needs!
Mon Petit Chou
Cabbage is the hallmark of the brassica family and we keep a very special place in our heart just for this beautiful, humble veggie. We think the French have it right when they use “mon petit chou” (my little cabbage) as a term of endearment.
The fashionable life of Kale
Kale has laboured away in relative obscurity in modern north American culture for years only to be recently thrown into the trendy nutritional spotlight. Call it what you will – a fad, a diet, a phase – kale doesn’t really let all the attention go to it’s head. In fact, when you get to know it, kale is about as down to earth as it gets.
Never JUST a potato
Yes, we’re known for our corn and our sweet, sweet carrots but a large percentage of our crop is potatoes: all colours, shapes and sizes of beautiful rich potatoes! The number and kind of varieties we grow each year vary, but for the 2015 crop season, we’ve planted and grown 13 different varieties. That’s right, THIRTEEN different kinds of potatoes.
You and broccoli really need to be BFFs
Broccoli is like that kid in middle school who wore thick glasses and too short pants but then grew up to be Mr Universe. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of broccoli and you’re going to want to get to know it well before it becomes that “it” veggie that all your friends are talking about.
Fibonacci numbers, wild discoveries in the marshes of Toronto and vitamin C powers to make your head swim: cauliflower really does have it all.
How to Dill Pickle ANYTHING
Pickling your way to success!
If you love dill pickled veggies, you’re in good company. However, if you’re just envisioning crisp cucumbers in jars, we’re here to help you expand your dill dreams.
When you have a good go-to dill pickle recipe you love, you can apply it to almost any veggie. From spicy pickled cauliflower to kohlrabi garlic dill pickles, if you want to do some pickling experiments this year, this is the post for you!
Kohlrabi Fritters with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce
These savoury fritters are well balanced by the dill sauce and make for an excellent treat or meal!
Onions have feelings too.
The onion is a commonplace veggie on our North American plate but it is truly one of the most interesting, versatile and tasty veggies we grow.
Cool as a cucumber
Once picked, our cucumbers have a short window of freshness so make use of these babies right away!
Fennel likes long walks on the beach and a glass of fine wine with dinner.
There is one crop that – above all – seems to mystify our customers… fennel. Personally, we love fennel and use it daily in our meals but we know this preference is not always shared with everyone in our community so we have rustled up some recipe options to help your fennel really woo you.
Love the bean you’re with.
Here at Riverbend, the appearance of beans means that summer is in full swing. We grow three varieties of beans and we love them all. Beans have a (relatively) short season so love them while they’re here!