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PHOTOS: Yes, that is corn growing in front of the Port Moody arts centre

Don't be surprised if you see corn, kale and lettuce sprouting in front of the PoMoArts. They're supposed to be there, crops in a new victory garden that was planted Friday by groups of volunteers.

Victory gardens were started in the First World War as a way to boost morale and supplement wartime rations with fresh vegetables and fruit.

In Canada, they were encouraged by a vigorous campaign by the Ministry of Agriculture to get “a vegetable garden for every home.”

When a second global conflict again sent young men off to battle, the communal and home gardens sprouted again, making up for some of the food production lost because so many farmers and labourers had joined the war effort.

Lori Greyell, who runs the community garden next to Port Moody’s police station on St. Johns Street, said the city’s new victory garden in front of its arts centre isn’t borne of wartime necessity, but it is a positive response to some of the stress and anxiety that have resulted from more than a year of public health restrictions and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of that uncertainty was about food security, as the spread of the virus shut parts of the supply chain down at various times, like chicken processors.

The pandemic also boosted the popularity of gardening in general, Greyell said, as getting your hands into the soil was one way of getting fresh air outdoors when so many were trying to isolate themselves from contact with too many people. She added it also provides a satisfactory feeling of achievement.

Port Moody’s victory garden was planted Friday by groups of volunteers. It includes cucumber, squash, corn, beans, lettuce and kale, as well as some flowers around the edges to help make it look nice. It will be tended through the summer growing season by city workers, as part of their regular maintenance and landscaping duties at the arts centre.

The crops can be sampled by anyone, Greyell said, although she hopes no one will take advantage to start their own farmers market.

The planting effort also kicked off a series of gardening workshops and seminars to be held online through the summer. Sessions include:

  • soil basics: June 7, 10-11:30 a.m.
  • organic fertilizers and pesticides: June 21, 10-11:30 a.m.
  • edible flower gardens: July 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • succession planting and getting ready for fall/winter vegetable gardens: July 22, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • composting 101: Aug. 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • harvesting preservation and storage: Aug. 29, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

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