50,000 free vegetable seedlings to be given out across Greater Victoria
Tens of thousands of vegetable seedlings grown by the City of Victoria are being given to those in need in the community for free: (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria’s incentive to increase food security amid the pandemic is underway, with more than 50,000 vegetable seedlings starting to be distributed this week.
The “Get Growing Victoria” program was approved at the beginning of April when city council agreed to use the city’s parks department greenhouses to grow food for those affected by the economic impacts of the pandemic.
The city is now working with 30 different organizations to distribute the veggie starts.
One of the many organizations working with the city is LifeCycles Project Society, a local group that works towards enhancing urban existence through a connection to food.
LifeCycles started putting the plants in the hands of eager gardeners on Monday. In two days, the organization has distributed more than 3,000 seedlings to more than 300 families.
“This project is helping bring resources and hope and an opportunity for people to connect with each other, and grow food which brings nutritional value as well as health benefits,” said Leah Seltzer, LifeCycles Project Society manager.
The seedlings for the spring and summer seasons will be given out over the next three weeks by the different groups involved. The city plans to have fall and winter seedling ready later this summer to distribute.
"I think the Get Growing Victoria initiative has responded to and catalyzed a desire to increase local food security," said Jeremey Loveday, Victoria city councillor.
"I look forward to seeing many people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow their own food this summer."
For Amanda Sullivan, a first-time gardener, the free vegetable starts have been a great encouragement to get growing and reduce stress.
“Everybody loves food and gardening is really good for stress relief and I think there’s enough stress going around these days that this is a good medicine for the people.”
Loveday says he would like to see the program continue on. But, that decision won’t be made until the fall when the city determines its budget for the coming year.
Besides the positive feedback that the program is getting from those involved, city staff say that the parks department has been able to take on the project without a need for additional funding to its budget, while maintaining its regular work.
For more information on the Get Growing Victoria program, visit the city’s website here.