A nursery in Saanichton got some good news on Monday after an agent with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency cleared a considerable amount of formerly quarantined product for sale.
Island View Nursery was temporarily shut down July 3 after spores were found on a single plant, putting 100,000 plants at risk of being destroyed.
Alexandria Garcia, who works at the farm and whose father owns it, says that while they aren’t open in the sense that people can come in and shop around, they are able to sell some of their product — “less than half” — that did not test positive for the spore.
The spore, called Phytophthora ramorum, is believed to have come via the United States after the nursery unknowingly bought the contaminated plant from a Canadian supplier on the Mainland. It is responsible for a number of plant diseases, most famously Sudden Oak Death.
The nursery is asking active customers to send them an email with their order which can then be picked up at the nursery from a secured area.
Garcia says the news is a relief for the nursery which was already feeling the pinch after two weeks with no business.
Island View Nursery supplies 2,000 landscaping companies, including many of the Peninsula’s best known gardens, municipalities and attractions. Landscapers typically buy thousands of plants in one order.
After the initial inspection the nursery was advised to immediately cease all plant selling activity with a 90-day quarantine period likely to be imposed which could be followed by an order to destroy all their plants.
Garcia says they were surprised to get the good news.
“I feel like … the agent really wanted to help us find a way to make it work, I don’t think this is typical of them to do … so at this point we’re feeling really fortunate.”
Twelve years ago the nursery was faced with a similar situation where a spore was discovered and staff were forced to burn the entire stock.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website states “when P. ramorum is found, the nursery site is placed under quarantine and all infected plant material is destroyed. Extensive surveys and traceforward and traceback activities are then conducted to ensure the organism has been eliminated.”
More tests are in currently being run on the plants, water and soil with results expected to come back by the end of this week or early next week.
– With files from Nick Murray
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