Local purchase: “unfair and illogical”, say garden centers

In these times of confinement, Prime Minister François Legault encourages Quebecers to favor local purchases. At the same time, nursery producers who also operate a garden center believe that it is unfair to prohibit the opening of their business to sell their plants directly to consumers, while supermarkets continue to sell them.
These are the Walmart, Canadian Tire, RONA, Canac, etc. – are considered essential services because they sell food or building materials. Garden centers do not fall into this category, despite the fact that nursery production is considered an essential service.

Producers are frustrated with the situation and do not see how they will be able to sell their production. “It’s unfair and illogical,” says Sarah Bédard, co-owner of Ferme Bédard Blouin in the Beauport borough. “How is it that supermarkets can sell plants when we can’t? It’s very disloyal… Especially since these are perishable products. Now is not the time to sell annuals or vegetables in July! ”

“The Prime Minister talks about local purchases, Quebec products, eating with our local products. Would this be a priority? I look for logic in his directives and I can’t find any. We have a time in the year to make our year. Right now, we don’t even have that time, ”wrote Christian St-Pierre, co-owner of Horto Verdi, to MPs Samuel Poulin (Beauce-Sud) and Stéphanie Lachance (Bellechasse). Mr. St-Pierre has a garden center in each of these two ridings.

“People are surprised to learn that garden centers are not an essential service,” added Mr. St-Pierre, also contacted by Le Soleil .

Online sales

For the moment, the only avenue for garden centers is the online sale of their products. “But three-quarters of garden centers do not even have a site for online commerce. It is a quiet process. It takes a lot of time and energy, especially to enter the inventory. You don’t open an online store in a month! ” explains Ms. Bédard. “Especially since plants are not something you can send by Canada Post.” You can get some broccoli seeds on this website and start growing your vegetables.

The producers ask that the garden centers can be opened as soon as possible. “If at least we could do contactless car service in our facilities with a reduced workforce,” claims Ms. Bédard. Opinion shared by M. St-Pierre.

He adds that the invoice for the customer will be higher if it is necessary to invoice delivery costs, in addition to exposing the delivery person to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

“How is it that supermarkets can sell plants when we can’t? It’s very disloyal… Especially since these are perishable products. It’s not time to sell annuals or vegetables in July! ”
– Sarah Bédard, co-owner of Ferme Bédard Blouin in the Beauport borough

The horticultural producer located in Beauce and Bellechasse felt a certain openness on the part of the two deputies. “But that remains responses from deputies. There is also Minister Fitzgibbon who told Mario Dumont [at TVA] that he was planning a scenario to perhaps allow some businesses to open earlier. ”

Québec Vert – which until recently was the Interdisciplinary Federation of Ornamental Horticulture in Quebec – assures that it “is in continuous conversation with governments in order to assert the specific needs of the sector and obtain the necessary assistance to businesses in this context, “reads its website . “We are asking for the priority resumption of garden center activities and services in ornamental horticulture. We are asking the government to widen the distribution channels for producers and garden centers, ”it said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Especially since gardening is a pleasant activity to do and it gives an opportunity to do an outdoor activity with the children,” says Mr. St-Pierre, also a member of the board of directors of the Union des producteurs agricoles.

“If there is one thing that would do Quebecers good at the moment, it is to put your hands in the ground. And it would also be a great way to keep them at home when the weather [comes], “concluded Ms. Bédard.

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