‘Green thumbs’ grow in Canada.

Products and supplies for home gardens and urban farms are in demand in Canada.

The onset of the pandemic in early 2020 spurred concerns about food security; this, combined with travel restrictions and limited approved activities, prompted many Canadians to take up gardening and grow their own food. 

While lockdowns initially impacted garden centres’ traditional spring sales plans, provinces deemed them to be an essential service and allowed them to open with limited customer capacity. Many garden centres and greenhouses improved their eCommerce capabilities and offered products for sale online, with delivery and/or curbside pick-up.

Garden centres and greenhouses are traditionally family-owned businesses and slower to embrace new technology; however, the pandemic pushed many owners to integrate online strategies that allowed them to continue serving customers and grow their businesses. Statistics Canada’s August 2020 retail report noted that while many Canadian industry sectors had negative sales numbers due to lockdown restrictions, building and garden centre revenues were up 4.5%. The demand for seeds, gardening tools, and related equipment grew significantly in 2020. Many seed suppliers ran out of stock, leaving some garden retailers concerned about 2021 seed availability.

Dalhousie University’s Home Food Gardening During COVID-19 report states that 51% of its respondents grew at least one variety of fruit or vegetable at home during the pandemic, with almost one in five Canadians taking up the hobby during that time. Reasons for growing food at home included concerns about access to food, rising food costs, pandemic-related food shortages, and for some people, gardening was simply a good reason to spend more time outside.

Urban farming is also growing in popularity, with 14 new urban farms – some on rooftops – opening in Quebec in 2021. Toronto and Vancouver are also active centres of the urban farm movement. This trend, coupled with a growth in general gardening, means that suppliers to these sectors may find market opportunity in Canada.

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