Get Growing, Victoria!


(Photo credit: Aly Sibley Photography at Fernwood collection day)

2022 Get Growing, Victoria!

The award-winning Get Growing, Victoria! program supports communities in need through partnerships with non-profit organizations that help distribute seedlings to residents who face barriers to growing their own food.

Partner organizations support communities directly through their programs, like horticultural therapy for mental health support groups, and gardening and food access programs for community kitchens that support people with disabilities. The pandemic has exacerbated the need for more support and resources to help communities foster social and emotional well-being in safe ways.

Get Growing, Victoria! is the recipient of the BC Recreation and Parks Association Program Excellence Award. Learn more.

Download the 2022 Get Growing, Victoria! poster here

2022 Seedling Distribution Dates

Spring distribution for summer crops will occur from May 16 to June 5. Later summer distribution dates for fall/winter crops will occur from July 25 to August 14.

Spring 2022 Neighbourhood Distribution Days

Please bring your own trays to transport your seedlings. Garden materials such as compost, wood chips and leaf mulch are available at select sites.

Date Time Location Details
Fri, May 20

noon-

2 p.m.

Victoria West 

Vic West Community Centre,

521 Craigflower Rd.
Seedlings only
Sat, May 21

noon-

2 p.m.

Downtown 

Yates Street Community Garden, 1014 Yates St.

Seedlings only 
Street parking only
Sat, May 21

noon-

1 p.m.

Burnside Gorge 

Burnside Gorge Community Centre, 471 Cecelia Rd. 

Seedlings only
Parking available in the community centre parking lot
Thu, May 26

5:30-

7 p.m.

Fernwood 

Fernwood Community Centre,

1240 Gladstone Ave.
Seedlings only
School parking lot on Gladstone Ave.
Fri, May 27 10 a.m.-noon

North Park

Franklin Green,

1019-1045 Mason St.
Seedlings and compost available 
Street parking only 
Sat, May 28

noon-

2 p.m.

Oaklands 

Oaklands Community Centre,

1-2827 Belmont Ave.
Seedlings, compost and wood chips available
Street parking only
Sat, May 28

10 a.m.-

1 p.m.

James Bay

Irving Park

250 Menzies St.
Seedlings only
Street parking only 
Thu, Jun 2 9-11 a.m.

Rockland

Government House Iris Garden, 1401 Rockland Ave.

Seedlings only
Parking available on site 
Fri, Jun 3

11 a.m.-

2 p.m.

Hillside Quadra 

Quadra Village Community Centre, 901 Kings Rd.

Seedlings only 
Street parking only
Sat, Jun 4

noon-

2 p.m.

Jubilee 

Bank Street School, 

1623 Bank St.

Seedlings only 
Street parking only
Sun, Jun 5

noon-

2 p.m.

Fairfield Gonzales
Robert Porter Park,
1350 Fairfield Rd.
Seedlings only
Street and school parking lot 

Get Growing, Victoria! is a City of Victoria program that provides food seedlings and garden materials to underserved communities, including people disproportionally impacted by the ongoing pandemic. The seedlings are grown in the City nursery in Beacon Hill Park and distributed in partnership with community organizations.

In the program's first year in 2020, over 81,500 edible plants were grown and 200 cubic yards of garden materials were distributed, supported by over 44 community partners that directly served over 10,000 households. In 2021, over 86,500 edible plants were grown and 250 cubic yards of garden materials were distributed, supported by over 60 community partners that directly served over 12,000 households.

In 2022, the City will distribute 100,000 seedlings in partnership with a variety of community organizations, neighbourhood associations, supportive and affordable housing organizations, environmental ​stewardship organizations, mutual aid groups, and more. If your organization supports communities in need with gardening initiatives and has an interest to participate in this program, please contact parks@victoria.ca for more information.

Learning to grow food at home contributes to food security and our community resilience, and the City of Victoria is responding to a renewed interest in learning to garden.

Check out this NewCities article, Grow Food, Grow Gardeners, Grow Community by Mayor Lisa Helps about Get Growing, Victoria!

To learn more about the collective impact of this program, check out this video from one of our partners, Growing Together.

What We Are Growing in 2022

Seedling varieties are selected for easy growing for the novice gardener and suitable for a variety of locations, such as garden beds in yards or container gardening on decks and balconies.

Spring distribution provides vegetable and herb seedlings and includes tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, basil, chives, nasturtiums, calendula, shiso and miner's lettuce. 

Our late summer distribution of fall/winter crops includes cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, swiss chard, romaine and loose-leaf lettuce, broccoli, kale and mustard greens. 

For more information about each seedling variety and tips for seedling care, visit Growing Together.

How do I care for seedlings?

We want new gardeners to experience the joy of growing food successfully. Check out our educational opportunities and partner organizations below.

Growing in the City Workshops
If you are interested in an in-depth and immersive learning experience, check out the City of Victoria's new Growing in the City gardening and nature-based workshops. Learn more and register at victoria.ca/recreation.

Compost Education Centre
We have partnered with the Compost Education Centre to offer on-site education at all 2022 neighbourhood distribution days. They offer a wealth of educational materials, resources and knowledge to the community on topics such as composting, soil health, growing your year-round veggie garden and more. For more information about the excellent resources, workshops and services on offer, check out the Compost Education Centre.

Growing Together
The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) and the Growing Together campaign offer free educational resources in the form of videos, ​webinars and access to a new-gardener mentorship program. Growing Together shares knowledge from local experts, including site planning your garden, building healthy soil, companion planting, how to safely transplant seedlings, best watering practices, organic pest management and more. Start learning today with Growing Together.

Who is eligible to receive plants?

The project prioritizes support for people who have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and want to grow food at home, but that may be facing barriers to access food plants and garden materials and may not have access to fresh, locally grown food.

This may include, but is not limited to, Indigenous people, racialized people, people who have experienced loss of work, people who are immunocompromised, people living with cognitive, physical, financial or social barriers or disabilities, seniors, youth, families in need, unhoused people, and/or people who self-identify as food insecure.

Garden Materials for Residential Gardens

Help build healthy soil in your garden with free leaf mulch and compost from the City of Victoria. Good quality soil is a key ingredient in creating a foundation for healthy plants. As part of the Get Growing, Victoria! program, leaf mulch, compost, and woodchips produced at the City’s nursery in Beacon Hill Park will be dropped off at community locations for pick up by residential gardeners in the spring, late summer and fall. Spring 2022 distribution is now complete.

How should I transport the compost, leaf mulch, and wood chips? 
When handling any garden material, it is recommended to use gloves and conduct proper hand washing practices. The compost and leaf mulch are loose and not pre-bagged, so please bring your own container such as a bucket, tote, or wheelbarrow, as well as a shovel and gloves. We encourage people to maintain proper physical distancing from others while loading material. 

What is in the compost?  
The compost is compiled of organic matter including grass clippings, leaves from parks and boulevards, plant material, excavation material from boulevards (soil and turf), wood chips, and manure from the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm.  

What is in the leaf mulch?  
The leaf mulch is compiled of leaves from the City’s residential leaf collection program. 

What is in the woodchips?  
The woodchips are compiled from branches collected through the City's branch chipping program.

Building Healthy Soil

Maintaining a neutral soil pH by adding organic matter and compost to your soil and mulching your garden soil are all great ways to help keep your garden happy! Remember to thoroughly wash your garden produce to help reduce your exposure to soil contaminants so you can enjoy the many health benefits of eating fresh garden-grown fruits and vegetables. 

Is this material suitable to use in food gardens? 
Recent soil tests for heavy metals conclude the compost and leaf mulch are within the allowable limits for BC Waste Management Act Schedule 3.1, the CCME Soil Quality Guidelines and OMRR guidelines. It is important to note that the compost is made up of organic matter including manure from the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. Proper handling of garden materials and hand washing is recommended when working with all soil amendments, including compost.  

If interested in learning more about soil health and contaminants, check out the Compost Education Centre's information on soil contaminants basics. In addition, learn about the Healing City Soils program to have free soil testing conducted each year in the spring. 

Why does the carbon-to nitrogen ratio matter? 
The carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is an important consideration when growing food crops. Recent soil testing concluded that both the compost and leaf mulch have a higher carbon to nitrogen ration than optimal. The higher carbon ratio means that as the carbon breaks down, it will pull nitrogen from the soil to complete its de-composition process. This may result in slower plant growth, especially for vegetables. These materials should be used as an amendment to your soil and not used as a soil replacement.  

How to use these materials as an amendment?  
If using a high carbon amendment like the City’s compost, it is recommended to also add nitrogen rich compost such as kelp or composted fish fertilizer or add liquid kelp fertilizer throughout the growing season. It is recommended that the mulch is best suited to top dress ornamental plants.

Where can I learn more about soil health?
To learn more about soil health and contaminants, check out the Compost Education Centre and their information on soil contaminants basics. For more in-depth information regarding mulching practices, please refer to their fact sheets or webpages on:

Our Partners

Thank you to our amazing recipient organization who help ensure the success of Get Growing, Victoria! We are proud to partner with First Nations and organizations that provide a variety of community services, such as:

  • Indigenous foods initiatives
  • Friendship centres
  • Intercultural community organizations
  • Mental health and addictions organizations
  • Community centre operators
  • Neighbourhood associations
  • Mutual aid groups
  • Emergency food access organizations
  • Social service organizations
  • Subsidized and supportive housing organizations
  • Environmental stewardship organizations
  • Public health organizations
  • Greater Victoria School District
  • School and community gardens

In addition to the 50 recipient organizations accessing Get Growing, Victoria!, we also help offer neighbourhood distribution days in partnership with community organizations and neighbourhood associations across the city. This provides a community collection hub in every neighbourhood where free food starts and garden materials are available. 

Thank you to our neighbourhood distribution partners for ensuring smooth and safe collection events for everyone, including:

  • James Bay Neighbourhood Association
  • Oaklands Community Association
  • Burnside Gorge Community Association
  • North Park Neighbourhood Association
  • Fairfield Gonzales Community Association 
  • Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group
  • Government House and Friends of Government House
  • South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association 
  • Victoria West Community Association and Victoria West Food Security Collective
  • Yates Street Community Garden 
  • Quadra Village Community Centre