Your garden is bigger than you think! During the First and Second World Wars, Canadians on the homefront took to planting ‘Victory Gardens’ in their backyards and community spaces to help feed the nation when its resources were strained by total war. In the present day, we’ve facing a different kind of struggle: Against a global pandemic. And now, too, your garden at home can play a role in feeding the nation!

Did you know? As food prices increase, access to food security services have been steadily on the rise over the past 13 years, exasperated by the pandemic: Feed Ontario reported in November that first-time access to food banks in the province spiked by 26.5% in the first four months of lockdown alone. One-third of beneficiaries were children. Community Support Connections, who operates a Meals on Wheels program in Waterloo region, noted that the loss of traditional support from family and friends amongst local older adults during the pandemic opened up holes for food security that needed filling quickly.

What can I do to help? Grow-A-Row in your garden! Food banks and community fridges are always seeking fresh produce to offer to those who access their services, and locally-sourced vegetables and fruits are a boon to Meals on Wheels organisations that offer hot meals. Dedicate a row (or more) in your personal garden to one of these organisations – come harvest time, your yield will be greatly appreciated! Better yet, seek out a community garden space that you can collaboratively form into a Victory Garden!

What can I grow? While there are all kinds of great produce that grows in Ontario’s rich soils, produce that is easy to prepare, versatile, nutritiously dense, and with a long shelf life (2-3 days or more) is preferred. Some great options include:

  • Tomatoes (of all kinds)
  • Zucchini
  • Winter Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Yams
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans

Where can I donate to? Before you break ground, seek out your local food bank, community fridge, and Meals on Wheels organisations to see what all they can take, and what specific needs they may have. Some organisations, like Community Support Connections, have opportunities to volunteer in a community Victory Garden to support their services with fresh produce as well. Regardless of what you grow, and how, you’ll be planting the seeds of victory for neighbours in your community!