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Montreal Community Gardens

  • Subject: [cg] Montreal Community Gardens
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 23:18:26 EST

bFood milesb for thought
by Alan Coxwell 01.06.05

bFood milesb was a term I had not encountered until the first week of
What it refers to is how many miles that food on our tables has travelled in
order for us to enjoy it and gain the nourishment it contains. Here in Canada,
in what appears to be a global-warming-era January, we have no trouble
enjoying South American bananas, Hawaiian pineapple and Florida oranges for
breakfast; Pacific salmon with fresh California veggie salad for lunch; spuds
Prince Edward Island with our Alberta beef and Mexican pinto beans for dinner.
Their miles in the back of a diesel-powered tractor trailer certainly do add
when one thinks about it b&. Please pass that bottle of fine French wine if
would be so kind.
Thinking about bfood miles,b along with indiscriminate use of pesticides
herbicides in the second half of the last century, coupled with the flat
taste of highly fertilized foods, spawned an encouraging movement across
Believe it or not, leaders in the community gardening movement reside in
downtown Montreal.
Because of the depressed economic situation in Montreal during the 1980s and
1990s plots of vacant land in the downtown area were claimed by gardeners. In
fact, some of the early vacant lot reclamationists, who started out as b
gardening guerrillasb in the 1970s, worked fallow land along railway tracks
under electric power lines. Most of these gardeners were Italian and
immigrants who brought their way of life with them to Canada.
In 1974 Montrealbs mayor, Pierre Bourque, formerly a horticulturalist with
the citybs parks department, was looking for ways to revitalize vacant city
lots. He met with the gardening guerrillas. The first gardens were officially
up in low-income, highly urbanized areas. Today Montreal has 97 gardens with
8,200 individual allotments involving 14,000 citizens. Two-thirds of the
gardens are now zoned as parks which protects them from being buried under
developments in the future.
People involved in these gardens have found a new community within their
city. They describe their gardens as green oasis of tranquility where they can
to relax. Stress peels away from gardeners as they dig in the soil, water and
watch their plants grow from week to week. Perhaps more important than the
produce is a new sharing with their neighbours. Food in some projects called
Grow-a-Row is earmarked for donation to food banks. Meals together, sharing
home grown fruits and vegetables, is a highlight for many and a youth garden
with 440 plots is used to teach gardening to nine- to 14-year-olds. Who can
think of anything with more positive outcomes?
So, as you settle into a comfy chair by the fire one winter night to sink
your eyes into the new 2005 seed catalogues which have just arrived in the
consider the above and make a retroactive resolution. bFewer food milesb

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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