Gardening has grown in popularity as food prices continue to rise.

Mike Hager is one of many in Guelph who has a plot at a community garden.

“It really clears the mind,” he says.

Hager also grows his own vegetables to save money.

“There are some really interesting heirloom varieties that you can grow yourself, and would probably cost a pretty penny at the store,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to grow some food that can supplement what you are purchasing at the store.”

According to a 2020 study by Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, 50 per cent of respondents grew some sort of fruit or vegetable at home. Of those, 17 per cent said they started because of the pandemic.

Janet Music at Dalhousie University said a lot of Canadians turned to gardening out of a misplaced fear of the supply chain and the unknown.

“Would it collapse? Would we run out of food? It was kind of a way to take back control of their food source,” said Music.

GARDENING WITH GROCERY BILL IN MIND

Fast forward to 2022 and the most recent study found that 41 per cent of respondents are growing food due to rising costs at the grocery store.

“Are you going to save money by growing food in the garden,” asked Music. “It’s difficult to say.”

At the University of Guelph, staff at the arboretum are teaching vegetable gardening 101. The program started during the pandemic and has been very popular.

“I personally have a lot of friends that took that,” said Caelum Wishart, the head gardener at the University of Guelph’s arboretum. “People get a lot of accomplishment when they grow their own vegetables they can eat and I think it tastes better than a lot of the grocery store stuff you get.”

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However it’s important to remember that a good green thumb can take a little while to develop.

“Two, three, four seasons in, you’ve got enough know-how to kind of supplement your monthly or weekly grocery bill with food from the garden.”

“We do have some people where this is their main support system for their diet,” said Emily Shabsoye, a coordinator for Guelph’s community garden. “It’s great to see that we all have a passion and we can all just garden together like that.”


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