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New anti graffiti initiatives coming
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 6 juillet 2011

File photo

Borough councillor Susan Clarke says that the amount of illegal graffiti increased after three young men were killed by a train at the Turcot Yards last fall.

The Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district is well known for its ethnic diversity and for its population density. Both aspects explain the high degree of love for community gardening in the borough’s designated green spaces, all six of which promote increased health through the benefits of organic produce, social interaction, physical activity, and integration with the land.

“One more community garden on the island of Montreal means one less occupied hospital bed,” said Constantin Marinescu, president of the Châteaufort Community Garden Corporation’s administrative council. Montreal’s community gardens date back to 1975 and operate under the auspices of the city, which provides them with utilities and horticultural expertise.

Participating gardeners have described the social experience as relaxing, therapeutic, unifying, educational, and constructive.

“This is how my kids started eating vegetables,” said Mihaela Sandu at St-Raymond Garden. Her husband visits their plot daily, just for the pleasure of it.

People from dozens of cultural backgrounds bring to life their agricultural know-how, imparting traditions and knowledge to one another. Victoria Garden’s Filipino users grow a lot of bitter lemon, which they consider a diabetes treatment. Most gardens are both multicultural and multigenerational. The Châteaufort Garden has ten children’s plots on top of 160 regular 3x6 metre plots. It is the borough’s largest and most newly upgraded garden, having undergone a massive transformation over a period of two years before reopening this spring. President Marinescu recommends that all the borough’s community gardens register as non-profit organizations, with the vision that they can partner up with the city to make bigger strides in the world of community gardening.

The volunteers in charge of the community gardens determine their local priorities. When it comes to getting things done, there are gripes about the time it takes the city to grant requests. Everyone acknowledges the competing demands faced by the public sector, but the gardening community knows in its heart that other services, such as swimming pools, recreational parks, and public flowers, are not paramount. The gardening season is short and, if vital needs are not addressed immediately, it becomes too late. There are of course normal delays when the work that needs to be undertaken involves private property.

Current small-scale demands range from bike stands to gravel pathways to the trimming of tree branches that hide the sun. Larger and longer-term wishes involve bigger budgets for more workshops and for more gardens. Currently the gardens are at maximum capacity, and the municipal waiting list is at around three years. The borough says the high demand is a sign that the gardens are a victim of their success, and that there are not enough of them. A review of the mandate of urban agriculture policy is underway, and improvements to community gardening are part of that picture.

[ Anja Karadeglija ]

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