The City of Victoria, BC is planting between 50,000 to 75,000 food seedlings in its greenhouses to give to residents in May and June in order to help those looking for more food security.
“Some park staff will be repurposed to work with partners on the Urban Food Table,” Victoria mayor Lisa Helps said. “Parks staff will produce 80% of the number of hanging baskets — because of course, we know beauty is important through this period of time as well — and the 20% of the time that would have gone into hanging baskets will go towards supporting food security.”
Earlier this month, Councillors Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday had asked the city to redistribute some of its park and recreation resources to grow food, and to work with partnering societies and communities to distribute the seedlings to the community. Isitt said that the last time he was aware of the city stepping in to help with food production was in the Second World War and that the COVID-19 pandemic seemed like a good time to also get involved.
“We’d like to see focus of the parks department shift towards starting vegetable plants in the municipal nurseries and greenhouses in order to support residents who want to grow food and become more food secure,” Isitt said. “We’ve heard a huge amount of support from the general public wanting to start a garden.”
Presently the greenhouses are primarily used to grow native plants which are later transplanted throughout the city. City staff are currently in discussions with farmers and seed libraries to come up with a shortlist of easy-to-grow edible plants that would be ideal for home gardening.