City of Victoria, Canada, wants to ensure food security through urban agriculture
Victoria is a Canadian city famous for its flower gardens. The climate favours the cultivation of different types of flowers and the city is known as Canada’s flower capital, or the “garden city”. But the pandemic changed this scenario a little.
With the pandemic, the city gardening team prioritised the planting of vegetable seedlings that are being distributed free to the population, since people’s interest in growing their own food has grown considerably at this time.
This is the first time since World War II that the city has focused on helping citizens to produce their own food. The goal is to ensure food security in the city at a time when many people are experiencing economic problems, food prices are rising in the markets and some food stocks are low.
Families that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and affected by social isolation measures have priority in the distribution of seedlings. According to the city hall website, priority will be given to those who have recently lost their jobs, indigenous people, people with low immunity or risk groups, families in situations of social vulnerability and special cases that will be evaluated by the municipal administration.
Families that have children enrolled in the public education system will also be able to receive the seedlings, as well as all didactic material needed for classes at home.
75 thousand seedlings
So far, the municipal gardening team has made 75,000 seedlings available for donation, in a total of 17 species of vegetables: broccoli, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, zucchini, young pumpkin, cabbage, mustard leaves, chard, cabbage, basil and parsley.
One of the criteria for choosing the vegetables was the ease of cultivation, even by less experienced gardeners, in addition to the possibility of planting the seedlings in backyards or smaller areas, in pots indoors and on balconies for example. The seeds were donated by local producers.
The delivery of the seedlings began on May 25 and runs through June 11 and is being carried out by different NGOs in the city. To access the seedlings, before they are delivered to the general public, it is necessary to register according to the priority criteria presented by the city.
Support for urban agriculture
During the action, students working with volunteers are taking courses in agriculture and learning about the country’s agrarian credit policies. Urban and family agriculture is highly valued and a series of measures and protocols from the city government encourages the population to produce their own food.
The city allows, for example, the creation of chickens and bees in backyards, encourages the creation of community gardens, orchards, gardens on green roofs and has a special program that sponsors the planting of fruit trees and chestnuts in public spaces. The sale of products grown at home is also permitted and encouraged as a tool to improve the domestic economy.