Montreal to assist residents develop their very own meals this summer season to encourage self-sufficiency
Montreal is encouraging residents to try gardening this summer – not just to start a new hobby at home during the pandemic, but to become more self-sufficient when it comes to food.
Mayor Valérie Plante said her administration will start opening community gardens on Monday, with strict public health rules in place.
From there, the city provides gardening needs and tips for growing self-grown, nutritious foods in your own garden or on the roof or balcony.
But their plan doesn’t stop there.
The Montreal Botanical Garden will turn an acre of land into a garden that will grow enough food to feed 100 people for a full year, while agricultural workshops will be offered to help people learn gardening skills.
All vegetables and fruits harvested in the Botanical Garden are distributed to local tables.
All of this is part of the city administration’s vision for urban agriculture to be developed in the coming year.
“This vision will guide the city in terms of food security in the long term,” said the mayor.
The strategy will focus on increasing production at already operational locations on the West Island by around 35 percent while exploring new agricultural locations such as the upcoming Great Western Park.
Open community gardens safely
Plante said community gardens are more than just a leisurely summer activity for many Montreal residents as they allow people to subsist on fresh food at a low cost.
“We’re going to make sure the community gardens remain safe places,” she said, noting that the Montreal Health Department has approved the move as long as people abide by public health rules.
In addition to the distance of two meters to each other, these rules include:
- Controlled access by appointment only.
- Gardeners must bring their own tools and wear gloves at all times.
- Common rooms that are frequently touched are cleaned regularly.
- No new gardeners are allowed to register this year.
Montreal’s community gardens are becoming increasingly popular. Most have waiting lists – several hundred people long.
In the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, for example, there were more than 670 people on the waiting list last November, and in Ahuntsic-Cartierville people can expect up to two years to get a place.
Urban gardening can be done almost anywhere where there is enough sunlight. The community gardens in Montreal have been full for a few years and now the mayor is encouraging people to grow at home. (Martin Thibault / Radio Canada)
Distribute gardening supplies garden
The Montreal Executive Committee has granted Cultiver Montréal, an organization focused on urban agriculture development, $ 45,000.
The group will distribute gardening supplies, seeds and saplings to residents in 10 districts, the mayor said, and provide online educational resources in the form of instructional videos that people can access when needed.
The Botanical Garden also offers online videos for beginners and experienced gardeners and will more than double its annual food production on its 75 acre site.
Charles-Mathieu Brunelle, director of Space for Life, said the founders of the botanical garden launched a demonstration called the Garden of Victories after World War II to inspire Montreal residents to produce their own food.
“More than half a century later, the Botanical Garden will again do its part to make this city more united and green,” said Brunelle.
Public markets remain open
Montreal’s public markets will remain open as they were during the pandemic, but they will be designed so that people can safely stay two meters apart.
Plante said it was important to keep these markets open as they give people access to fresh, locally grown food and support local food production.
Plante said people should also remember to bring their face covering or mask.
“The two meters could be difficult to maintain in some cases,” she said. “It is our own responsibility to protect ourselves and others.”