Pointe-Nord residents have come together for a second year to make citizens gardens a reality, with the help of Demain L’Île-des-Sœurs. Thanks to the work of a handful of volunteers, vegetables and herbs were planted in curb extensions, tree beds, and planters.
Inspired by the film Demain, Louise Poulin, Ginette Petit, Daniel Dõ and Diane Couturier decided to join hands and create this small-scale urban gardening project for the benefit of all Nuns’ Island residents. “We approached Proment Corporation first to see about using their vacant land. But since we would only have been able to use it temporarily, Ilan Gewurz, the Executive Vice-President of Proment Corporation, suggested that we instead use the existing city infrastructure for gardening,” says Louise Poulin. The city designated some flower beds and provided giant flower pots for planting vegetables. Vegetables are also being grown in raised garden beds.
A collective effort
The Demain L’Île-des-Sœurs group is supported by Maison de l’environnement and the Escouade verte, as well as by Isabelle Melançon, MNA for Verdun and Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, who allocated a small budget for buying equipment, soil, and plants.
Each year, volunteer residents are invited to help plant and maintain the gardens. Volunteers can leave a message on the group’s Facebook page with their availability for tending to the gardens. One person is assigned to be in charge of the gardens each week through the end of September. “You need to water the plants every day, except if it rains, since it’s very windy in Pointe-Nord,” explains Louise. Residents can choose to water the plants either before they head off to work or when they come back home. “The gardens belong to the people, so if you think the soil is too dry, feel free to water them! All the gardening equipment you need is being stored at La Petite Épicerie dépanneur,” she adds.
A great variety of plants
Curb extensions are lush with herbs like thyme, mint, parsley, oregano, basil, sage, chives, rosemary, and tarragon. Volunteers also planted sunflowers and blackcurrant shrubs, whose fruits are rich in antioxidants. The giant flower pots contain lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Basil, a natural mosquito repellent, was also planted around the tomatoes.
Three Sisters technique
Three Sisters gardening is a technique of planting complementary plants together. The group used this age-old way of gardening to plant, corn, beans and squash in a planter on the pedestrian plaza. The corn acts as a pole for the beans to climb up, and the dense foliage of the squash protects the soil from weeds and keeps it cooler.
A growing movement
Nuns’ Island is home to other resident-led urban gardening initiatives on the island. At École des Marguerite, students have teamed up with the Maison de l’environnement to plant pumpkins, which will be ready to pick in time for Halloween. Another garden, planted at Place de l’Unité using the Three Sisters method, symbolizes the three different religious communities on the island. Equipment for maintaining plants in this area is available at the pizzeria.
“People will be able to come harvest fresh herbs and vegetables for themselves throughout the entire summer,” explains Louise Poulin. “Other gardens can also be created on the island, so long as people want to be involved.”