Toronto

Turning to gardening to cope with COVID-19? This Toronto chef has a kit to get you started

With Ontario's stay-at-home order leaving many searching for new ways to occupy their time, one local chef has noticed that not only are some turning to growing their own food, they're also using it as a way to cope with the anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic. 

Up to 1 in 5 Canadians took up gardening last year, Dalhousie study says

As more and more people take up gardening, local chef Carla Beça decided to seize the opportunity and make a new business out of it. (Submitted by Carla Beça)

With Ontario's stay-at-home order leaving many searching for new ways to occupy their time, one Toronto chef has noticed that not only are some turning to growing their own food, they're also using it as a way to cope with the anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic. 

"I honestly think it all has to do that with people really taking their health and their well-being into consideration," Carla Beça told CBC News.

In fact, according to a study by Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, as many as one in five Canadians got their hands dirty last year and turned to gardening for the first time as a new pandemic hobby. 

It all inspired Beça to take on a new endeavour with a company called The Cozinha, aimed at getting people gardening, growing and cooking their own food.

"It's basically my creative outlet at the moment to kind of get out of my head and out of the funk of what is going on in the world and in Ontario right now," Beça said. 

"I was trying to spark joy in a way and find my passion again for cooking and food."

Up to 1 in 5 Canadians have started gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Dalhousie University study suggests. (Submitted by Carla Beça)

After launching in March, Beça has found success selling her germination kits — the process of getting seeds to grow into plants — via her Instagram account, where she posts interactive photos and videos of the entire gardening process. 

The kits, which buyers can customize, are meant to help anyone start a garden with whatever space they have available.

"I just want to turn Toronto into a big garden state," she said. "So you can do this if you have a bit of space for a garden to do it, if you are in an apartment, condo, or even a balcony."

Paul Zammit is the director of horticulture at Toronto Botanical Gardens and a CBC Radio contributor.

In a previous interview with CBC News, he said he's not surprised that while the COVID-19 crisis continues, people are busying themselves in the garden. 

Beça hopes to inspire people to use gardening as a way to cope with the stress of the pandemic. (Carla Beça )

"This is not something that's totally new for us," said Zammit,

"I think there is a great deal of opportunity. The circumstances are unfortunate but I think in the end we will see some positive results on the other side of it." 

Beça hopes gardening can help others keep occupied through the pandemic and inspire them to look forward to the warmer and brighter days ahead.

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