Rising temperatures and slowly lengthening days make gardeners filthy with the spring planting season, and the City of Victoria Food Security Team is there for that.
The park department prepares several hundred cubic feet of compost, wood chips and leaf mulch to use in phase one of Get Growing, Victoria! The project, which is now in its second year, supports growing food at home, especially for people who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
When COVID-19 hit last spring, the city wanted to help people who want to grow food at home but for some reason struggled to source plants and gardening supplies. So the council voted to reallocate part of the park gardening – where they grow their famous hanging basket flowers and plants for park exhibits all year round – to grow food crops.
Last year grow, Victoria! raised more than 80,000 seedlings. Some have been distributed in parks, and many have been distributed by nonprofits already working with vulnerable populations.
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Park employees grew things like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and edible marigolds. Things that are relatively easy to grow in a variety of locations, so first-time gardeners with a small north-facing balcony facing an agricultural yard could benefit.
They are affiliated with Growing Together, a roundtable program of the Capital Region’s Food and Agriculture Initiatives that provides the educational component for people who need to learn a thing or two about growing zucchini. Videos from local experts teach people how to transplant seedlings, how much and when to water, how to harvest, and much more.
But before bright red cherry tomatoes appear, you need good soil.
That’s why the city is also distributing free compost, mulch and wood chips – new this year from fallen branches – to everyone in Victoria. Seedlings are reserved for those who consider themselves to be in need as there is a more limited supply. They are issued in May and June.
Compost collections are planned across the city from April 12th to 18th. Bring your own container and wear a mask.
For times and locations, visit victoria.ca/getgrowing.
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