Q & A with Victory Gardens

Written by Kajsa IngelssonMarch 11, 2019

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but we lost control over our food system. With that, our food became less nutritious and more toxic, both to us and our planet. But times are changing; out with the mass produced chemically sprayed and in with the locally grown and sustainably organic. Victory Gardens are helping people to do just that. Read along to see how, why and where 🙂

Tell us, what is the mission behind Victory Gardens?

The mission behind Victory Gardens is to help people grow their own food! We build gardens for residential homes, schools, restaurants and institutions; provide one-on-one coaching services to learn how to grow; and plan, plant, maintain and harvest for those who want to have food in their space, but don’t have the time to grow it.

Our name is a nod to WWII-era Victory Gardens, which the public were encouraged to create in their yards in order to take pressure off the large scale food supply. Similarly, our gardens aim to localize food production for a more sustainable agriculture system, and by using organic practices, lighten our impact on the planet. We also acknowledge and support the numerous benefits to eating organic and spending time outdoors for healthy bodies and minds.

Photograph by Megan McLellan

How did you guys get started?

Victory Gardens was founded in 2012 by Lisa Giroday, Samantha Philips and Sandra Lopuch as a worker run co-operative. The three friends conceived the idea from time spent in Lisa’s garden, growing food together and teaching friends how to grow as well. A grant was received through a local co-op bank, Vancity, and Victory Gardens incorporated as a business.

Since then, the number of members in the co-op has increased, yet the business has retained its non-hierarchical management structure, access to benefits and company shares, and commitment to paying a living wage.

What services do you currently offer and in what regions?

Currently we operate in the Lower Mainland region around Vancouver, BC. We create growing spaces by designing custom gardens and installing raised cedar garden beds. We also offer veggie garden maintenance services and one-on-one coaching for growing food.

Photograph by Megan McLellan

Do you have any plans on expanding?

We would love to be able to access customers across a larger area and various growing zones. We are hoping to expand our educational services through webinars, subscription newsletter services and e-books!

What are the most important things to have in mind when your planning to make your space greener, whether it be buying plants, herbs or veggies? (I consider all of them to be plants)

One of the most important things to consider is light! All plants have different light needs so it is crucial to buy plants or plan your garden based on what you’re working with. Your tomatoes may not be happy in a semi-shady spot, however, lettuce will actually thrive in the cooler soil and break from the hot sun.

Another important point is water. Raised garden beds need a good soak at least every other day, and every day if you’re trying to germinate seeds. Plants that are starved of water are much more susceptible to pests and disease! Indoor plants can also dry out quickly, especially in full sun, so knowing the water requirements for your house plants is essential.

Photograph by Alana Paterson

If you don’t have an outdoor space, is all lost or are there some edible plants/veggies that we can grow inside a flat?

There are lots of edibles that can be grown inside! Greens such as arugula, mustards and baby kale can be grown in a window with at least 4 hours of sunlight. The same goes for herbs in pots! Microgreens make a great addition to a kitchen counter (and a fresh topping for your meals!), and there plenty of small grow light stands that can be set up to simulate sunlight.

Lastly, what’s your top three tips on how to become a more sustainable eco warrior?

  1. Growing your own organic food reduces food waste in the home, because you can harvest just what you need! No more plastic containers of mixed greens that go bad before you finish them, no more throwing out herbs when you only needed half of the bunch!

  2. If you can’t grow your own food, using your consumer dollars to buy organic produce supports an agriculture industry that is healthier for the planet and your body.

  3. Compost! If you have a yard, a compost bin will break down your food scraps, coffee grounds, plant debris and fall leaves and turn it into rich, fertile soil that will give your garden the nutrients it needs to grow year after year.

Photograph by Alana Paterson