A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)

A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)

Victoria shovels free home-made compost out to gardeners

Ideal for prepping food gardens, the compost, mulch and wood chips will be at city parks for pick up

Rising temperatures and slowly lengthening days have gardeners itching to get dirty with the spring planting season, and the City of Victoria’s food security team is here for it.

The parks department is prepping several hundred cubic feet of compost, wood chips and leaf mulch to give away in phase one of the Get Growing, Victoria! The project, now in its second year, supports food growing at home, specifically for people disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

When COVID-19 hit last spring, the city wanted to help folks who want to grow food at home but were having difficulty getting plants and garden supplies for whatever reason. So council voted to re-allocate a portion of the parks nursery — where they grow their famous hanging basket flowers and plants for park displays throughout the year — to grow food plants.

Last year Get Growing, Victoria! grew more than 80,000 seedlings. Some were distributed at parks, and many were handed out through non-profits already working with vulnerable populations.

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Parks staff 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 to a farm-worthy yard could benefit.

They’re connected with Growing Together, a Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable program, which 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 lots more.

But before bright red cherry tomatoes emerge, good soil is needed.

That’s why the city is also handing out compost, mulch and wood chips — new this year, made from fallen branches — for free to anyone in Victoria. Seedlings are reserved for those who self identify as being in need, since there’s a more limited supply. They will be handed out in May and June.

Compost pick ups are scheduled throughout the city between April 12 to 18. Bring your own container, and wear a mask.

For times and locations visit victoria.ca/getgrowing.

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City of Victoriafood securitygardening