Finding themselves at home with more time available; people across the region are trying their hand at all kinds of domestic arts. Closets and drawers have never been more organized, more bread baked or backyards tended. One of the activities seeing an upswing is people growing food gardens. In a time when people are feeling isolated and blocked from many things that bring them pleasure this seems like such a naturally good thing to do; not only from the standpoint of getting more fresh fruits and vegetables, but also fresh air and exercise.
Growing food is not easy. Many member agencies of the Good Food Network started to see an increase in requests for assistance from the community. With a boost from the Rapid Relief Fund, “Growing Together” was launched this spring. It is a community wide effort to support people to grow food providing information, mentors, connections, and tools for success. Lisa Small, one of the organizers says that the website growingfood-together.com, is a “Grand Central Station to access educational videos and resources, mentorship, links to sourcing seeds, plants and everything you might need to garden and grow food.” She adds “there are also special supports in place for folks who might need an extra hand through community projects that provide everything from plant starts to whole garden kits.”
Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers wanted to connect Growing Together with a Good Samaritan in Saanich, who saw an opportunity to give to their community at this time of stress and need. Chambers asked if Growing Together could link a donation to supporting seniors who needed assistance. This lead to Seedlings for Saanich Seniors. “This is 100 per cent community led, delivered and funded, buying from local farmers and distributing plants to seniors who need a hand in these times,” said Chambers, excited about the initiative. “It takes a whole community to grow together. It takes a region to be food secure, and this is a small but important part of this broader effort.”
More than 200 seniors will receive vegetable seedlings for their gardens. Sol Kinnis from City’s Edge Farm is a Saanich farmer who is excited to support the program by growing the seedlings. “People growing their own food is so important,” Kinnis said. “As the markets for my produce have been impacted by COVID-19, I was happy to have another revenue stream supplying the seedlings. Knowing they are going to seniors in my community makes it that much sweeter.”
Seniors in Saanich can receive kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, snap peas, squash, cucumber, sunflowers, green onions, lettuce and more. Interested seniors can sign up on the Growing Together website under the ‘Community Projects’ tab.
Requests will be made on a first-come first-served basis. “Plants will be available for pick up last weekend of May, or delivered to those without access to transportation,” said coordinator Lisa Small. “I’m so excited to be helping with this initiative and supporting seniors gardening this season.” More information, including where to come pick up the plants, will be provided upon signing up. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at email@example.com.