THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The dollar’s continued slide has hit many Thompson-Okanagan residents in the pocketbook as they do their weekly grocery shopping, as fresh fruits and vegetables hit new high prices in the region.
The high cost of eating has many people looking at growing their own vegetables, a trend GardenWorks Penticton’s Nursery Manager Scott Austin says has been on the rise for several years.
"People really start talking about it when the media picks up on high priced cauliflower or asparagus. We like to have whatever we want to have, whenever we want to have it, and if you want that, then you just have to pay for it,” he says, adding, “except this year is worse, because the high price of out of season fruits and vegetables are being affected by the drought in California and the fall of the Canadian dollar.”
He says he is seeing people from all walks of life getting into vegetable gardening - and for many it spreads to other areas of the landscape too.
“People who start with vegetable gardening realize it’s not that difficult, kind of fun, and look what you get, that they start looking around at other areas of their yard to see what else they can do,” he says.
Gardening centres bring seeds in early in the year, generally after Christmas, resulting in a steady parade of gardeners over the rest of the winter months, says Austin. Tomatoes are the biggest item in people’s gardens, with interest growing in green vegetables like radicchio, kale and blends of green vegetables.
“We get a lot of calls for melons as well,” he says.
For those who are really keen vegetable gardeners, Seedy Saturday and Sundays give gardeners an opportunity to grow varieties they might not otherwise see at a seed rack in a gardening centre.
At GardenWorks, Austin says their supply of 80 to 85 tomato varieties just scratch the surface.
“When you go to a place where someone is bringing in tomatoes they got from their grandmother, who got them from her grandmother, who lived in the Ukraine - stuff like that you can get exposed to and find out about at Seedy Saturdays, “ Austin says.
“I see people who never thought about growing a garden before, and just this year, with all this publicity about high produce prices, they’re starting to say, “Hey, maybe we should think about growing our own,” Austin says.
Seedy Saturdays and Sundays events are taking place throughout the Thompson and Okanagan regions throughout February and March. For more information on events in your area, check out the Seeds of Diversity web page.
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