Digging into the past to plant the future

As the food dwindles on grocery store shelves, we as individuals are beginning to realize more and more the importance of a resilient food system. You may be wondering, where is our food coming from, and will we be able to purchase the foods we need in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic? Will there be a disruption to our food supply? Can we grow enough food?

Over 100 years ago, during WWI, again during the Great Depression and not many years later, during WWII, people were asking the same questions. A movement arose back then that we are seeing coming to life now; people planting gardens and growing their own food.

In the past during times of scarcity and uncertainty, individuals and communities came together to grow what were called Victory Gardens. According to the Canadian encyclopedia, “The basic idea behind Victory and First World War-era war gardening was much the same: the more produce grown by Canadians in their front yards, vacant lots and former flower gardens, the less pressure on the local supply chains which were need to transport other war materials.” At its 1944 peak, it was estimated that 209,200 Victory Gardens were in operation nationwide, producing a total of 57,000 tonnes of vegetables.

We are hearing this call again from food security organizations across our country; ‘grow as much food as possible, in as many places as possible; yards, curbs, vacant lots, etc.’ In light of the real possibility of our supply chains failing, this call to action is to ensure food for our families and communities. Communities across the globe and country are responding, even cities such as Victoria are moving towards growing food and have passed a motion to grow more food plant seedlings in the city’s greenhouses.

Victory Gardens can once again offer communities in Canada a direct role in meeting our agricultural production needs while at the same time they promise a very tangible way of obtaining food. There are also the additional nutritional, mental and social benefits of planting seeds and tending and harvesting a garden.