Atlantic Canada has highest number of new gardeners in Canada amid COVID-19: study

What you can do now to prepare for gardening season. Getty

A new report released by Dalhousie University in Halifax shows that almost one in five Canadians started to garden this year, and two-thirds of them were significantly influenced by COVID-19.

The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in partnership with Angus Reid, a not-for-profit organization commissioning research and opinion polls, released the study called “Home Food Gardening in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic” on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: With community garden season cancelled, members worry about food security

The study investigates the different attitudes people have to home food gardening in Canada during the pandemic.

According to the report, a survey was conducted from Sept. 28-30 in partnership with Angus Reid to collect data from people across the country for the study. The survey was conducted online, and 1,023 valid responses were collected.

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The report suggests that 51 per cent of people who responded to the survey grow at least one variety of fruit or vegetable in a garden. Of those, 17.4 per cent started growing food at home in 2020 during COVID-19 — that is almost one in five Canadians.

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The report also states that a total of 67 per cent of new gardeners in 2020 agree that the pandemic influenced their decision to start growing food at home.

“More British Columbians and Prairie residents are home food gardeners than are not. Ontario is almost exactly even between those who grow food at home and those who do not, at 50.1% and 49.9%, respectively,” the report stated.

Of all respondents who grow food at home in Atlantic Canada, the report shows that 23.7 per cent started gardening this year, the highest number of new gardeners in a region of Canada.

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READ MORE: The benefits of growing a garden during the COVID-19 crisis

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the lab and co-author of the report, says she was surprised by the number of new gardeners in Canada.

“Results show many Canadians remain quite anxious and really wanted to take control of their own food supply chain during a time of great uncertainty.”

Based on the results collected, the lab’s researchers outlined a number of recommendations in the report:

  • Municipal governments need to increase awareness of their community gardens as results show that 25 per cent of those who live in the urban core of a city grow at least one fruit or vegetable at home, usually on a balcony. 19.1 per cent of non-gardeners claim the lack of space is why they do not grow food at home.
  • The number of condominium and apartment home food gardeners is on the rise. “This presents a unique opportunity for condo boards, renters’ groups, and neighbourhood organizations to start home food growing associations,” the report states.
  • Frequent surveys of Canadian consumers exploring their attitudes to food and food security need to be carried out.

According to the study, a follow-up survey would be completed on September 2021 to discover if as many Canadians are still growing food at home and if more Canadians have joined the home food growing movement.

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