During the Second World War, many of those in the UK with space to till turned over soil to create Victory Gardens. The realities of war and living on an island meant food shortages were a real concern and the gardens were seen as a way those at home could support the war effort … and be fed.
Today, many Vancouver Islanders revisit those efforts as a way to boost our food security.
Important in terms of preserving the diversity of seeds available – and thus our ability to ward off problems arising from a limited seed pool – food security also refers to our ability to better fend for ourselves in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
Those concerned about the environmental costs associated with things like transportation of produce and pesticides are also turning more of their gardens over to edibles.
So what do you do if you want to support the grow-local movement but lack land to till?
Some make a point of supporting local farmers and producers through grocery store selections and farm markets, but many also turn to allotment gardens, renting space to grow their favourite fruits and veggies.
Problem is, there aren’t nearly enough Oak Bay allotment beds to meet the demand.
The district currently has 28 allotment beds tucked into two gardens behind Fireman’s Park. The waitlist, however, stands at 37.
Rick Lee, who raises a significant amount of produce from January through fall, waited six years for his patch of land. Linda Thomson, who imparts the knowledge and motivation behind growing with her grandchildren, waited a full decade.
Coun. Hazel Braithwaite, liaison to the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission, is looking into where the district could incorporate new allotment gardens, a trend we’re seeing in neighbouring municipalities. In Saanich, for example, gardeners harvest all manner of edibles from new, attractively fenced plots along the Gorge Waterway.
Here’s hoping Oak Bay can also find more space to help fill this growing need, and score a victory for the food security battle.