Is food security anxiety seeing a Victory garden revival?

Local seed companies see intense spike in demand amid COVID-19 pandemic

Some local garden seed companies have temporarily stopped taking orders amid abnormally high demand for fruit and vegetable seeds this spring.

Headingley-based T&T Seeds said between March 15 and April 4, sales were up 167 per cent from the same period last year.

Overall, T&T has seen a 56 per cent increase in demand for vegetable seeds this year, and a 46 per cent demand for fruit trees.

Heritage Harvest Seed in Carman said it’s also seen more people planting more than usual.

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“That’s why we have such a large number of orders, because of the pandemic,” the company said via text message.

Heritage and T&T have both periodically restricted orders to keep up with demand, according to their Facebook pages.

On its website, Brandon-based Mc­Kenzie Seeds is warning customers of shipping delays due to high order volumes.

The demand isn’t just a local issue.

“The unprecedented demand by home gardeners for seed has exceeded our staff capabilities,” wrote Wayne Gale, president of Ontario seed company Stokes on its website.

Gale said the company had stopped taking orders by phone, and said they expected delays to outgoing orders. Stokes is also prioritizing commercial vegetable growers, he said.

In the United States, the Washington Post reported April 16 that American gardeners were also snatching seeds from shelves at a record pace, “overwhelming websites, (and) creating a huge backlog of orders.”

The article quotes Burpee Seeds chairman George Ball saying spring buying is “so different that it’s unrecognizable in terms of just the sheer demand.”

“I would say we’ve been flooded, but not drowned,” he said.

On March 25, the New York Times suggested anxieties over the food supply was bringing back the “victory garden.”

Victory gardens were vegetable plots planted in Canada during the Second World War as people looked to do their part on the “home front.”

They provided garden produce in a time of scarcity and considered a form of “wholesome, patriotic leisure,” the Canadian Encyclopedia says.

About the author

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Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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