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Trends in south Vancouver Island backyard gardening

Most home gardeners use their harvest at home -- either fresh or frozen for over-winter.

veggie starters
Spring backyard gardening.

Monday April 1, 2024 | LANGFORD, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

A survey of local Sooke and west shore gardeners shows eager and active gardening activities in at-home gardens.

That includes attention to soil quality, composting, growing from seed, and harvesting. About 86% enhance the soil in their garden each year, while about 68% create their own compost (about 14% buy compost).

plants, garden, for sale
Starter plants for sale at Sooke Seedy Saturday on March 30, 2024. [Island Social Trends]

Almost all home gardeners (89%) grow their edible plants from seeds. Seeds are produced from people’s own home gardens (50% of respondents), or purchased from a local seed supplier (71%), or at a local retail store (61%).

Almost all the respondents grow edible plants both in-ground and in containers; a few use raised beds or have a greenhouse.

district of sooke

Respondents itemized a wide range of vegetables and fruits that they grow at home including tomatoes, lettuce, beans and peas, potatoes, beets, kale, spinach and broccoli. Some grow carrots and corn, cabbage and rhubarb. Many grow a variety of culinary herbs and garlic. Fruit endeavors include raspberries, strawberries and plums.

Food-growing in community:

veggies, garden
Tomatoes on the vine in a home grown garden. [Island Social Trends]

Almost all the at-home gardeners (96%) who filled out the survey at the UFRIS booth are currently not involved in a community garden. But 25% of respondents said they might like to be.

Sooke has one community garden (Sunriver Orchard and Allotment Gardens on Phillips Road) as does Colwood (Colwood Community Garden next to Colwood municipal hall). Both municipalities have organizations pressing for a second community garden in each of Sooke and Colwood.

Langford is putting together their first community garden for active use this summer.

urban food resilience, booth, sooke seedy saturday
The Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society info booth was hosted by Mary P Brooke, March 30, 2024 at Sooke Seedy Saturday. [Devin Dignam]

Almost all respondents (93%) said they think more buildings (residential, commercial, schools, etc) should include food-growing infrastructure like balconies with garden boxes, irrigation to yards and balconies, indoor green-growing rooms, and designated garden plots. “That would be very good and healthy for the entire Island,” said one respondent and another said “This is very important”.

soil quality, workshop, langford, 2024

Learning more:

island earth, landscaping

There was interest in learning more through classes or workshops, with 71% of respondents saying they would be interested in attending one or more workshops on topics like soil quality, planting from seed and composting.

About 25% said they would be interested in learning how to lead or join a neighbourhood food growing pod.


Of the folks who go to the trouble of growing food through the growing season about 86% attempt to harvest all of it. Most of that is for use at home (89%) mostly consumed fresh (79%), frozen for use over winter (68%), or to share with neighbours (50%).

About 7% of grow-food-at-home gardeners take some of their harvest to their local food bank. Goldstream Food Bank is in Langford and the Sooke Food Bank is in Sooke.

Royal Roads University has a community garden called The Farm from which all the produce is contributed to local food distribution networks.

district of metchosin

About the survey:

The survey completed by people who garden at home was made available at an information booth of the Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society (UFRIS) during the annual Sooke Seedy Saturday event (held on March 30, 2024). The sample size was 28 respondents.

dumont tirecraft, winter road safety

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