Partner Education

Social Responsibility: CitiGrow

CitiGrow has made significant positive impact on its community, the environment and your dinner table

Written by Text: Kellie Davenport & Vickie Reichardt

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When he started CitiGrow, a company that repurposes unused urban land in Winnipeg and turns it into sustainable-farming plots, David Gingera had a simple goal: to create a better way of growing food. “I wanted to start a business that was not only profitable, but had a social-responsibility aspect to it,” he says. “To grow as much as you can, as close as you can to where it will be eaten.”

That’s exactly what CitiGrow affords property owners (who pay an annual fee to have their land converted), urban farmers (who grow crops on the land) and, ultimately consumers, who know what they’re eating was grown no farther than 25 km from where they bought it. “All of our urban farms are 100 percent chemical and pesticide-free,” adds Gingera. “So the quality of our produce is far superior to that marketed by larger, conventional suppliers.”

In its first year, CitiGrow’s 17 urban-farming plots sold thousands of dollars worth of produce, with revenues divided between the company, property owners and farmers. Crop selection was left largely to the farmers, but Gingera says he’ll gauge demand from buyers in advance and guide growers going forward, as the company expands to other Canadian cities. “Food buyers will get greater value and the food we grow will be higher-priced specialty items,” he says, “so our urban farmers will earn more than they did last year.”

As for those farmers, Gingera says they come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are farmers by trade, while others are hobbyists or first-timers, whose skill levels are taken into account when assigning plot size €“ the better the farmer, the larger the plot. “The most important thing to us is that they have a passion for growing high-quality, sustainable food. Because that’s what our company is about,” he says. “I hope, over the course of the next five years, CitiGrow can play a large part in getting people to think seriously about where their food comes from.”

[ FROM THE JUDGES ]

“This is a simple concept with huge potential. A triple win €“ the environment, local produce and real profits. Having proven their model in Winnipeg, I hope we see urban farms, farmers and locally grown produce in my city this year.”

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com