Alexandria Garcia standing at the entrance of the nursery. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Island View Nursery under quarantine after single plant found with infected spores

Infected plant believed to have come from the U.S., through mainland supplier

The largest commercial nursery in Saanichton has been shut down under quarantine, with its 100,000 plants at risk of being destroyed due to spores found on a single plant.

Island View Nursery supplies 2,000 landscaping companies, including many of the Peninsula’s best know gardens, municipalities and attractions. Landscapers typically buy thousands of plants in one order.

The family run, 80-acre business has been open since 2004 and they say the shut-down will devastate them and have far reaching implications for other businesses.

ALSO READ: Seeds of dissent growing on Peninsula farms

“It is going to have catastrophic effects on the industry, because we’re the only nursery on this side of the island that has this volume of product,” says Alexandria Garcia, who works at the farm and whose father owns it. “Our family is just reeling and trying to figure out what we’re going to do, this is our whole life.”

The spore, called Phytophthora ramorum, is believed to have come via the United States after the nursery unknowingly bought the contaminated plant from a Canadian supplier on the mainland. It is responsible for a number of plant diseases, most famously Sudden Oak Death (SOD).

Garcia says many local nurseries buy much of their stock from the same supplier and as the spores are airborne it is possible other farms and nurseries might already be affected.

After an inspection from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Garcia says they received an email at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday advising them they had to immediately cease all plant selling activity. As that is their core business, they have had to shut down the entire nursery. The quarantine is subject to further tests but a 90 day quarantine period is likely to be imposed. An order to destroy all their plants could then follow.

ALSO READ: Farming, climate change top new North Saanich councillor’s agenda

The situation is even more painful for them, as a similar situation happened 12 years ago, where a spore was discovered and they were forced to burn their entire stock.

“Literally a bonfire and spending an entire year hucking plants into the fire,” Garcia says, adding, “The last few days I’ve been driving through the nursery looking at all the healthy plants and it just brings you to tears, we love plants.”

Although they were entitled to compensation, Garcia says it still left them $1 million out of pocket. This time, things are even bleaker as they no longer qualify for compensation.

“The fact it’s not our fault is the worst thing. Anyone can come out and see how tidy and neat everything is,” says Garcia. “My question is what happens if we go under and then the next one [nursery] goes under and the next one. What happens to our landscapers and Greater Victoria as a whole?”

Garcia says it is unfair that they are at risk of going bust for buying plants in good faith.

ALSO READ: Saanich council nourishes regional foodland trust with unanimous endorsement

“It’s like a grocery store,” she says. “If they are selling a product with a recall on it, you don’t burn the whole grocery store down, you recall the product and work back to the factory.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website states “when P. ramorum is found, the nursery site is placed under quarantine and all infected plant material is destroyed. Extensive surveys and traceforward and traceback activities are then conducted to ensure the organism has been eliminated.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Agriculture

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

City of Langford rebrands, announces several projects

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

Fiddler on the Roof brings timely message to Oak Bay stage

Musical starts Friday in Dave Dunnet Theatre

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day in Victoria

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Most Read