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CitiGrow: Focusing on Food Sustainability in the City

Lauren Marinigh | October 10, 2016

Finding unused urban spaces and using those spaces for micro-farms is what entrepreneur, David Gingera has set out to do in Winnipeg, Manitoba with his business, CitiGrow.

CitiGrow uses urban agriculture to grow fresh, local produce in environmentally sustainable ways. Their model involves finding unused urban spaces, working out deals with property owners, and developing those spaces into micro-farms. This year, CitiGrow is operating 22 micro-farms in and around Winnipeg and their produce is sold to top restaurants, retailers and to their subscribers (of their weekly produce box) in Winnipeg.

David was inspired to start CitiGrow because he felt that entrepreneurship was the purest expression of creativity. “In the same way an artist visualizes an image in their head and paints it on a canvas, an entrepreneur can visualize a concept and bring it into reality,” he explained. “We, in a sense, have the opportunity to shape the world we live in. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.”

Inspiring other small businesses and entrepreneurs to think big when it comes to being more eco-friendly, David explained that because small businesses don’t have the luxury of scale, small ideas can be insignificant in terms of environmental and marketability value. As an example, he pointed out that a three-person office going paperless is great, but chances are nothing meaningful will come of it. “Instead, find some core environmental issue that aligns with your business, and figure out how you can incorporate real impact into your business process,” he suggested. “I believe these opportunities exist for all businesses, from agriculture to financial services, to software and technology.”

CitiGrow has gained a lot of hype recently being named the Canadian Social Responsibility Business of the Year, Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25, and also a number of press features in publications. But the most rewarding moments to David so far have been the connections he’s made with his customers and clients who are passionate about food sustainability. “The mutual understanding of producers and buyers working together to create more sustainable food systems is extremely rewarding to see,” he said.

It’s entrepreneurs like David who are changing our country for the better, and he wanted to leave other aspiring entrepreneurs with this advice:

“Do not conclude that you are doing a good job simply because other people are patting you on the back. We are in a time today where being an entrepreneur is a “cool” thing to do. I think too many people today, particularly younger entrepreneurs, get distracted by “start-up culture” and fail to devote their attention to actually building a sustainable company. Know your business, understand the results you need to achieve, set high expectations for yourself, and be brutally honest in terms of whether or not those expectations are getting met.”

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada