Blessed with a mild Pacific coast weather, the city of Victoria, British Columbia, is known for its stunning flower gardens that are colored with magnificent blooms almost all year round; hence its nickname “The Garden City”, or the flower capital of Canada.
This year, however, the city has changed its usual growing routine. Because of the pandemic, greenhouse staff were directed early this spring to grow more vegetable seedlings, which are now being distributed throughout the community to anyone who wants to start growing their own food.
The goal is to promote food security at a time when many people are facing shrinking budgets, rising food costs, and grocery store shortages – a contemporary version of the Victory Gardens that so many people were urged to plant in the 1940s.
While everyone can benefit from this thoughtful initiative, according to the city’s website, priority is given to people who have been “disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and want to grow food at home, but that may be facing barriers to access food plants and garden materials, or are facing barriers to access fresh, locally grown food.”
So far 75,000 vegetable and herb seedlings have been raised. There are 17 varieties in total, such as cucumbers, zucchini, squash, cabbage, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, chard, kale, basil, tomatoes, parsley, and lettuce.
All are considered easy for novice gardeners and appropriate for a range of planting locations, from backyard garden beds to balcony pots. The seeds were sourced from local farmers.
From May 25 till June 11, the seedlings will be handed out free of charge. The distribution is being done by multiple charitable organizations across Victoria, and anyone who registers in advance is able to access the plant selection ahead of the general public. Student volunteers are also helping distribute the seedlings, where they can learn about urban agriculture and receive a work experience credit.