How to Get Cheap, Local Organic Veggies – Grow Your Own!

It’s spring time – a time for renewal, rebirth and GARDENING!! With all the talk of rising food prices, climate change and food security – we decided to dig up our front lawn and plant a veggie garden.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. In the context of my work and this blog – I see gardening providing cross-fertilization (pun intended) between healthy food and eating, physical activity and the wellness that comes form being outside in a natural environment.

It will give us a way to eat like locavores without paying the gourmet market price tag. I know that eating local costs less for us ‘as a community’ because the money supports our farmers and the local economy, but at the end of the day our food budget is finite and my family eats LOTS of fruit and veggies.

I know I’m not alone in feeling a twinge of guilt as I skirt the organics after a quick surveillance and then scuttle into the conventional produce section. But I can’t help it – when I see that $6.00 red pepper it makes me wince. We used to do most of our produce shopping at the Farmers Market before we had kids and before we were paying for daycare, life insurance and all those other fun things.

But we’re lucky because for many in BC, even the cost of regular produce is prohibitive for those living in rural and remote areas and especially for those on fixed incomes. BCAHL did some public opinion research several years ago and found that low income families knew they should be eating more fresh produce (and wanted to be eating more local organic foods) but found the cost of eating was a real barrier.

The garden is a way for my family to get our local organic goodies while getting some physical activity and quality outside time. It could be great or a complete disaster.  We’ve spent the majority of our adult years in an apartment, so we’re deprived in the gardening skills department.  Luckily ‘how-to’ resources are abundant.

We started with a visit to the Sunshine Coast’s Seedy Saturday to pick up seeds that have been saved by other gardeners and farmers. Many of these are organic, heirloom and proven to work well in our region. In Vancouver, Seedy Saturday is held annually at VanDusen Gardens – elsewhere this event is usually held early in the season and hosted by a local gardening or environmental group.

A number of years ago I took an organic gardening workshop series with Canadian Organic Growers (COG) in Ottawa and some their references are practical for backyard gardeners. I’ve also discovered this blog called Slugs and Salal which has a great seasonal task list for gardeners on the pacific wet coast.

So the garden boxes have been built, the seeds selected – now we just need to build the deer fence and get growing!

Rita Koutsodimos
Manager, Advocacy and Communications

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