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COVID-19 pandemic has Calgary gardeners planting more veggies, ‘growing their own food’

Click to play video 'COVID-19 pandemic gets Calgary gardeners planting more veggies: ‘Growing their own food’' COVID-19 pandemic gets Calgary gardeners planting more veggies: ‘Growing their own food’
WATCH: Spring has finally sprung in Calgary and a lot of people can’t wait to get their gardens growing. That means brisk business at garden centres and a shortage of one very important item you might be looking for. Gil Tucker reports – Apr 28, 2020

Backyard gardens around Calgary this year are seeing a lot more veggies.

“I’m going to do more things like beans and lettuce,” Kathleen Hawkwood said. “And I’m going to try to grow some corn.”

Hawkwood was shopping for plants and gardening supplies at Plantation Garden Centre in northwest Calgary, which is experiencing its busiest spring since opening in 2002.

Owner Colin Atter said a lot of the increase in business is related to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The demand is huge and supply is short.”

“As soon as something like this happens, a pandemic or a bad recession, everybody goes back to the basics of growing,” Atter said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Calgary gardening centres ramp up deliveries during pandemic

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“We are in that sort of mentality of gathering supplies and keeping sustenance going,” Hawkwood said.

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Atter says it’s now difficult for him to obtain new supplies of seeds, which customers have been buying large quantities of.

“That has caused North America-wide shortages — probably the world,” Atter said.

For now though, customers may still be able to find starter plants at garden centres, which have been deemed an essential service.

READ MORE: Canada’s meat-and-potato problem: Coronavirus pandemic hits the food supply chain

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“We’re an important part of the food chain, as in growing your own vegetables, because it will take the pressure off the grocery stores,” Atter said. “

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The shelves get empty, everybody gets back into growing their own food.”

Plantation customer Jonathan Hill says planting lots of vegetables brings many benefits.

“Limiting the time in the grocery stores a little bit and also just sort of sustainable living a little bit more and looking after yourself and your family’s needs,” Hill said. “It’s good for your mental health as well.”

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The benefits of growing a garden during the COVID-19 crisis – Apr 21, 2020

Many of the garden centre’s other customers agree that gardening can be therapeutic and ease the stresses of living through the pandemic.

READ MORE: Kingston, Ont. front-yard garden to help feed those in need during COVID-19 crisis

“It’s relaxing, it’s fresh air, it’s something to do, rather than being stuck in the house,” Genga Nadaraju said.

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“Being isolated for six weeks, I just needed some flowers,” Chan Kawaguchi said. “And it’s just going to brighten everybody’s day – my family, my kids, just trying to spend some time outside.”

Planting more during the pandemic may bring extra work, but many gardeners feel it’s well worth it.

“It feels way better than being inside,” Jody Brown said. “The garden is probably going to be a lot bigger than it usually is but I have the time.”