Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne is getting his victory garden ready for planting. (Contributed)

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne is getting his victory garden ready for planting. (Contributed)

Similkameen mayor encourages residents to plant victory gardens

Experts are predicting a fresh produce shortage this summer

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne is leading a practical movement — one with symbolism as well — encouraging residents to plant victory gardens in response to COVID-19.

“I am hoping that people will grow a garden big or small to help supplement what they would normally buy from the grocery store,” said Coyne in an interview with The Spotlight.

“Not everyone has an acre to grow food on but everyone has a window or a patio or a small spot in their yard that can be used to grow food. I am promoting all forms of gardening from container to square foot or traditional gardening.

“If you are lacking space then square foot and container gardening is the perfect solution to grow large quantities of food in a small space.”

Coyne launched a local Facebook group to engage would-be gardeners. It has 87 members who are already sharing tips and ideas.

Related: Princeton closes parks and mayor launches ‘virtual walk’ Facebook group

“There are multiple benefits to growing your own food,” said Coyne. “Not only does it get people outside, it allows people to take fresh food that they have grown and put it on their table all summer long. It also begins a move towards a secure local food source and food security.”

Experts are predicting a fresh produce shortage this summer, as many B.C. and Canadian farms are unable to hire the migrant workers they rely on annually. Selection is expected to be limited, and prices are expected to be high.

COVID-19 pushes Canadian food industry to tipping point: Federation of Agriculture

“With the prospect of the lack of fresh food on the grocery store shelves, I thought what is the easiest way to solve this problem?” said Coyne. “Gardens, victory gardens, were what kept food on the table during the war so why not a victory garden for today?”

The mayor is an experienced gardener as his family operates a successful market garden.

While his own victory garden is now “just dirt,” Coyne will be planting beets, carrots, lettuce, peas, corn, zucchini, bush beans, cabbage, squash, pumpkin, and herbs for drying and fresh use. “I am still looking for some onions and potatoes.”

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