A new study shows gardening is becoming increasingly popular across Canada, particularly in the eastern portion of Canada.
Dalhousie University first began surveying Canadians at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 through its Agri-Food Analytics Lab. That year, 51 per cent of respondents stated they grew food at home.
In 2022, that number was slightly higher, at 52 per cent.
About nine per cent of respondents said they started growing food during the pandemic and eight per cent said they plan to start this year.
“With almost 14 million households in Canada, more than one million households are planning to grow food at home for this first time this year,” read a report released Tuesday.
Researchers said in the report that they expect the highest number of new gardeners in Atlantic Canada, representing about 10 per cent. This is followed by Quebec and Ontario at eight per cent.
Of those who plan to begin gardening this year, about 46 per cent are under the age of 35.
These survey results come as the cost of food and living reaches all-time highs in the country while inflation rises. Food costs have been highly impacted by COVID-19 and chain supply issues worldwide, and Canada is no different.
According to Canada’s Food Price Report 2022, the overall food price increase for the coming year is expected to be between five to seven per cent — the highest predicted increase since reporting began in 2010.
The report said Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Saskatchewan are expected to see food inflation rates higher than average this year.
It also predicted that menu prices at restaurants will increase as restaurants feel the impact of food supply issues, rising rent and recovery from COVID-19 lockdowns.
In the gardening report, 41 per cent of respondents said they grow food at home to save money, and 12 per cent said they worry about food supply shortages.
Of those who don’t grow food at home, 55 per cent said they don’t have space or a yard and nearly 40 per cent said they don’t have time.
The report from Agri-Food also showed that about 17 per cent of Canadians abandoned growing food in the past two years.
However, research associate at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab Janet Music said that in 2022, more Canadians are “firmly committed” to gardening.
“Some Canadians are abandoning gardening, but many who are continuing to garden seem more committed,” Music said in the report.
Overall, the report showed the highest gardening rate in the country is in Saskatchewan, and the lowest in Ontario this year. But Ontario and the Atlantic provinces have seen the highest rate of people taking up gardening since the pandemic began.
“Gardening is clearly getting a second wind in Canada due to COVID,” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, said in the report.
Even two years into the pandemic, Charlebois concluded that gardening remains a popular activity in Canada.