Free seeds. Free soil. Helpful tips. Across the province, cities are providing residents with what they need to take up gardening during COVID-19
Published June 10th on TVO.org How municipalities are helping gardens grow
Every day last week, a team of Ottawa volunteers gathered at the Pat Clark Community Centre, where they sat hunched over tiny zip-lock bags at strategically placed white folding tables.
For three hours each morning and afternoon, they stuffed these bags with seeds — pea, kale, chard, beet, bean, and squash. Over the course of the week, they collectively packaged 20,000 bundles of seeds for distribution to 3,000-plus Ottawa families eager to start their own home gardens.
The seeds, along with soil and introductory gardening resources in five languages, are being offered free of charge to local residents as part of the Ottawa Food Garden Project. Launched on May 27 following a unanimous vote by Ottawa City Council, the municipal program was created and executed in collaboration with Just Food, a non-profit devoted to promoting sustainable urban and rural farming in the greater Ottawa area.
The goal of Ottawa’s Food Garden Project is threefold: to increase food security amid turbulent economic conditions; to offer opportunity for physical activity among residents in lockdown; and to promote socializing among family members and neighbours on whom isolation has taken a toll.
“This is the time for people to start new things,” says Councillor Theresa Kavanagh, who sponsored the motion for the creation of the Food Garden Project. “We’ve all heard about the bread baking and all that. Well, this is kind of similar, except it’s going to have longer-lasting consequences because people are going to get in the habit of using their land for something quite useful.”