Nanaimo food planting program goes big in wake of COVID-19

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WatchCovid-19 is highlighting food security issues for many who are experiencing shortages at grocery stores. As Skye Ryan reports it has a new program in Nanaimo working to fill the need, planting thousands of plants to bring food to people all year round.

Tender seedlings were going into the ground by the tens of thousands on the Nanaimo Foodshare farm Tuesday.

“It’s really nice to see something go from nothing to something beautiful,” said Foodshare volunteer Simon Boudreault.

The community program is designed to make healthy food available to all and has ramped up production during the pandemic.

“This year we’re tripling our area that we’re farming in response to the Covid crisis” said Foodshare director and Vancouver Island University Worksite trainer Craig Evans.

The food harvested from the 47-acre urban farm will all go into Foodshare’s Good Food Box, a $10 dollar box of fresh fruits and vegetables for low income Nanaimo residents that’s made available every two weeks.

Demand for it has soared since the pandemic and runs on grocery stores began.

“And I think this brings it to everybody’s attention just how fragile we are when things like 86% of the broccoli comes from the U.S.,” said Evans.

The Foodshare project is teaming resources from Vancouver Island University and local Rotary Clubs to feed Nanaimo through this pandemic and well beyond.

“All those people who have been left behind who just don’t have the funds to go to the store and get adequate nutrition every week,” said Evans.

Volunteer planter Alex Ayton said the project has inspired her to consider farming as a future.

“I would like to make my life revolve more around local food security,” said Ayton.

“And yes it’s definitely changed the way I want to model my future.”

“This virus will come and go,” said Evans.

“And food security is going to remain on the agenda for a lot of people.”

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