Gardeners in Saskatchewan growing more food in response to COVID-19: study

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WATCH: The COVID-19 pandemic was motivation for some people in Saskatchewan to develop a green thumb this year – Oct 13, 2020

It wasn’t just farmers growing vegetables this year in Canada. According to a study out of Dalhousie University, COVID-19 inspired some to develop a green thumb.

“A lot of people felt food insecure or felt the need to take control over their own destiny or their own food supply chain,” said Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University Agri-food Analytics director said.

Read more: Gardening grows in northwest Saskatchewan during COVID-19 lockdown

While the study found it was mostly people on the east coast getting their hands in the dirt for the first time, people in the prairies started gardening with more of a purpose.

Read more: ‘A lot of positives’: Western farmers wrap up harvest early, look to improved prices

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Meagan Masson is an experienced gardener living in Saskatoon. She noticed supplies and seeds flying off the shelves faster than usual this spring as gardening became a popular hobby at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although she wasn’t new at growing her own plants, she started to grow different kinds from previous seasons.

“It was primarily flowers, and annuals and perennials (in previous years) … with a little bit of pot gardening for veggies, but nothing like what it was this year,” Masson said.

Masson spent this season growing a variety of veggies. She grew enough to eat fresh and preserve well into the winter.

With help from her young son, Masson made 24 jars of salsa and many other recipes.

She said it saved some money and will save time when she prepares meals for the rest of the year.

Read more: What to harvest from your garden when frost is in the forecast

The work paid off for the Masson family, but without proper knowledge or experience, the investment of supplies and time isn’t worth it for people who didn’t have a successful season.

“You can spend a lot of money into your garden before you get one tomato. That one tomato can be very expensive,” Charlebois said.

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However, even if your veggies didn’t grow as much as you would have liked, gardening has other benefits.

“Gardening can be seen as an exercise or a therapeutic exercise. People find it relaxing as well,” Charlebois said.

Charlebois and the Dalhousie University research team will have a follow-up study next year to find out if Canadians will continue growing more of their own food next season.