Immigrants represent a significant segment of the senior population in Canada but their adaptation and integration into Canadian society can be extremely difficult due to variety of economic, social and health factors. It was hypothesized that involvement in urban agriculture could assist senior immigrants in addressing some of the challenges they face. Urban agriculture is increasingly recognized for its contributions to individual and community wellbeing, and has also proven to be an effective way for many minority groups to become integrated into the socio-economic fabric of the cultures and countries they immigrate to. In 2007, a pilot project was launched in Edmonton, Alberta to train senior immigrants in a commercial approach to UA, known as Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farming. This project was developed through a university-community partnership involving the Senior Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE), the Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative (MCHB), and members of the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.
Although limited income was generated as a result of modifications to the SPIN-Farming approach, this research suggests that involvement in commercial urban agriculture can contribute to the integration of senior immigrants into Canadian society, while also contributing to the evolution of local food systems and more inclusive communities.
* The urban agriculture for senior immigrants program continued from 2007 until 2014 when it was no longer available due to shortage of funding. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE).