Family gardens can alleviate COVID-19 food insecurity

John Ish Ishmael Community Garden in Downtown Brampton (Summer 2014)

According to the 2019 Public Trust Research Center for Food Integrity, Canadians are concerned about the availability of affordable food, food safety, and eating healthy. That was prior to the COVID-19 crisis. With the possibility that security measures will be escalating in the coming weeks, there is growing concern about the availability of fresh food on grocery store shelves.

Grocery store prices appear to already be on the rise owing to a lower Canadian dollar, increased grocery store staffing costs and the extra safety and security measures stores are taking. It doesn’t help that we keep seeing people contaminating food. A Pennsylvania woman was recently charged for coughing on $35,000 worth of food, further raising fears about food contamination.

Families can use the COVID-19 ‘downtime’ to appreciate where food comes from and how easy it can be to grow your own. Backyards in Canada are generally underutilized with large lawns, flowers and shrubs. There are plenty of opportunities to grow vegetables and herbs in any space.

In Peel Region, 1 in 10 households has food security concerns. Here in Brampton, local resident John Ishmael has been running Food Secure Communities and advocating for urban organic food sustainability. He has been managing a raised vegetable bed for a number of years in the city’s downtown.

Urban farming is not a new phenomenon. Many cities have community gardens and farms. However, with social distancing becoming the new normal the model will have to adapt. Learning about food, gardening and farming also gives practical skills to youth and encourages healthy eating. A quick Google search will connect you with many companies that sell seeds and offer videos and books to get started on maintaining your own herb, fruit or vegetable garden.

Will you be starting a vegetable garden this Spring? Let us know and share your photos with us at Brampton Focus Community Media. There are many local neighbours online that can help and guide you.