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Plant that yard; Eat that yard

Growing your own food is the new big thing in gardening, stemming from many people's concerns about food security during the pandemic.
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Cathy Giblin (aka the Organic Gardener) is all smiles when it comes to helping people start and maintain their edible home gardens. SUPPLIED/Photo

When the going gets tough, the tough get dirt under their fingernails, all for the sake of putting dinner on the table.

That’s basically how Cathy Giblin sums up what happened for many people during the pandemic. With the prospect that food security would be in jeopardy, they looked to their backyards and saw opportunity in the shape of future gardens. 

“I remember when we first were in shutdown mode and I started getting a lot of calls from people who had picked up on this notion that, 'I need to grow my own vegetables because maybe there won't be any vegetables at the grocery store,'” explained the owner and self-described "gardenerd" behind The Organic Gardener and Co

"It was always there, but I think that it really caught fire in the last couple of years.”  

Growing your own food is not only a great way to improve your food security while reducing your grocery bills, but it also serves as an enjoyable way to spend your time. Gardening gets you out into the fresh air for some gentle exercise. There are some great meditative benefits to gardening, not to mention the satisfaction of reaping what you sow.  

Giblin said there was a huge uptick in homeowners wanting to add edible fruits and vegetables to their gardens over the last few years. While she also has a great and easy method for growing potatoes out of a pail on your apartment balcony, residential clients in single-detached homes comprise the majority of her business.  

Over the two years of the pandemic, she had a bounty crop of new clients wanting to expand their ornamental gardens with edible plants.

Through her work, she does everything from basic consultations, to helping you pick what to plant, to plotting a new garden, and more. She can map everything out for clients and then do the installation if that's what they want, or just put the plan on paper and let them do the rest themselves. 

“We do a lot of maintenance as well. Lots of regular visits to gardens throughout the season to do the weeding, the pruning, the watering, and fertilizing if we need to, looking after the flowers, that kind of thing,” she said.

Her work — just as many home and garden businesses, she noted — saw such a huge rise in demand that she had to continue to take new customers throughout the growing season. Her last day of on-site work last year was Halloween.

“We were doing a fall cleanup. It was a previously established garden: very lovely and intricate, older homeowners, and it had just become overgrown, and it was becoming harder and harder for them to look after. We actually spent a few days out there putting it to bed for the fall,” she said, adding that many of her clients are in their senior years and have been in their houses for a long time.

“A lot have told me that if they didn't have somebody to help them look after their gardens, they would not be able to keep up with the yard work and would have considered selling their homes as a result.”

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns, and profiles on people.
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