TORONTO -- For those with green thumbs, the last few months of staying indoors may have left Ontario’s countless gardeners feeling blue. But as the weather gets nicer, there is some good news on the horizon. The Ontario government has said that
garden centres and nurseries will be among the first businesses to reopen after about a month and a half of economic shutdown in the province.
On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford released a list of certain businesses and workplaces that will be able to reopen with strict public health measures in effect. At the top of the list are what Ford calls “seasonal businesses” such as lawn care, landscaping and garden centres.
The province has said that these centres and nurseries will only be able to provide pick-up and delivery service.
There was some confusion for gardening centres when the province shut down the majority of Ontario’s businesses in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Under regulations released in March, “Businesses that produce food and beverages, and agricultural products including plants, farming, harvesting, aquaculture, hunting and fishing” or "Businesses that support the food or agricultural products supply chains and the health and safety of food, animals and plants".may remain open.
Some gardening facilities took that as confirmation they had been deemed an essential service and have been operating online with pick-up options. But it hasn’t been enough to maintain sales.
Flowers Canada Growers said that in Ontario, flower producers discarded about 40 per cent of their Easter crop.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of Canadian production stems from Ontario.
While some gardening facilities have been providing curbside deliveries throughout the pandemic, Ford said that his “heart always breaks for the little guys” in small towns.
“Those are the people I love and I want to support,” he told reporters on Friday. “Hopefully there will be a time in the very near future where people can go and look at their annuals and perennials.”
Ford added that reopening gardening businesses is also great for mental health and to get people outside while still following physical distancing rules.
‘There is nothing better than a beautiful, beautiful garden with flowers, as my mother always told me.”
The best time to plant seeds is between late March and late May.