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Expanding Food Security in Canada – From Community Gardens to Home Gardening

May 1, 2020

Author: Preveena Manisekaran, RD, intern at Nutrition Connections, and student in the Masters of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Community gardens have long been a way to support food security and provide access to local food in many communities. Community gardens allow for groups of people or communities to come together to grow their own plants, herbs, and produce. However, recent physical distancing practices have made it difficult for community gardening efforts to happen, reducing some communities’ ability to support their food security efforts. Despite barriers to community gardening, there are many initiatives families can take part in to grow fresh, healthy produce in their own homes – such as a Backyard Gardening Program.

Introducing Canada’s First Citywide Backyard Garden Program

Launched in Brampton, Ontario, the new Backyard Garden Program is an initiative that encourages and supports Brampton residents to start their own home gardens. The inspiration for the program came after COVID-19 shut down outdoor recreation spaces including community gardens in March to enforce physical distancing measures, and prevented community members from getting together. Before the decision was made to allow community gardens to open later in April, Brampton introduced a new program encouraging residents to grow their own produce and herbs for personal use, and also donate their homegrown crops to local food banks and community organizations to help support food security efforts. This initiative is a way for residents in Brampton to contribute to urban agriculture, give back to the community, and help the City of Brampton become a healthier, resilient, sustainable city.

With over 7,200 applications already received for the program, Brampton residents have demonstrated an overwhelmingly positive response to this initiative.

Patrick Brown, Mayor of the City of Brampton has stated, “Supporting our residents and community groups during this pandemic is our main priority. Our Social Support Task Force is working hard to provide the necessary food supports to Brampton’s vulnerable communities and empowering residents to join in this cause and grow fresh produce in their backyards. With the support of Brampton residents, we aim to launch 1,000 new backyard gardens through this program. Together, we can help alleviate the pressure on our food banks, while staying active and fostering community pride.”

Support The Backyard Garden Initiative

Businesses or members of the public that can donate gardening soil, vegetable plants or seeds to the City of Brampton are asked to email BramptonGreenCity@brampton.ca.

Interested in creating your own home garden, or in healthy eating? Check out these resources:

References

City of Brampton. Media Release: City of Brampton announces first citywide Backyard Garden Program in Canada in response to Covid-19 [Internet]. City of Brampton; 2020 April 16 [cited: 2002 April 23]. Available from: https://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/News/Pages/Media-Release.aspx/734

City of Toronto. Community Gardens [Internet]. City of Toronto; 2020 [cited: 2020 April 23]. Available from: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/parks-gardens-beaches/gardens-and-horticulture/urban-agriculture/community-gardens/

Galhena, D., Freed, R. & Maredia, K. Home gardens: a promising approach to enhance household food security and wellbeing [Internet]. Agriculture & Food Security; 2013 May 31 [cited: 2020 April 23]. Available from: https://agricultureandfoodsecurity.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2048-7010-2-8

Government of Canada. Physical distancing (face sheet) [Internet]. Government of Canada; 2020 April 15 [cited: 2020 April 24]. Available from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/social-distancing.html