Local farmers produced 85% of the food consumed on Vancouver Island during the 1950s. While a combination of high costs, low returns and cheap imports has almost squeezed them out of the market, there have long been people concerned about our losing the ability to feed ourselves. COVID 19 reminded everyone that, if distribution lines go down, food security could fast become a crucial issue. The increased emphasis has been good for the local food production sector and Cortes Island nurseries are flourishing.
“The uncertainties of the time have really driven home the need for food security for Cortes Islanders. Everyone wants to grow their fruit and vegetables. And along with food plants, people are planting all the flowering ornamentals. We all need food for our hearts and souls as well as the body.,” writes Laura Ellingsen of Fairhaven Gardens Nursery & Landscaping in Mansons Landing.
“The landscaping has been as busy as ever. We have been able to practice social distancing and are working outside which helps. This year especially, our clients are recognizing the importance and value of their gardens. The nursery has been bursting at the seams. Much more than ‘business as usual.'”
Whaletown Garden Centre
Noah Davidson, of Whaletown Garden Centre, agrees:
“This spring has been very busy and I’m seeing many new faces, a fair number new to gardening. Food sustainability has certainly been a hot topic this spring. I really enjoy talking with gardeners from all over the island and sharing tips and tricks to help succeed in producing bounties of fresh produce and flowers.”
“Times they are a changin” as the saying goes, and I’m sure we can count on our food prices continuing to increase, as that’s what prices do. Food availability issues could always arise with or without a pandemic, so the more food we can produce and store properly, the more of the year we can reasonably rely on our own gardens for substance.”
“It’s by no means an easy feat and takes hard work and dedication. I like to think of gardening as a “labour of love”. If you don’t enjoy it you probably shouldn’t be doing it. For those of us who love gardening, the failures become lessons, and the successes are so rewarding we try to ignore the losses.”
“I’ve always taken great pride in making available all the supplies a gardener could dream of. I’ve had many customers call my shop “a candy store for gardeners”, and that makes me smile. It’s always a pleasure talking to people about all the amazing ideas they’re implementing in their gardens.”
“I can only hope that many of the new gardeners I’ve met stick with gardening as a new found passion, or at least a side hobby, because I know how rewarding and tasty it can be. I’ll happily report that catching Covid-19 in your garden is rather unlikely, so if nothing else it’s a great spot to wait out a pandemic, your plants will thank you!”
Top Photo credit: Garden in unspecified location by Drew Folta via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)