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a report

HARVESTING COMMUNITY:
COMMUNITY GARDENING IN MONTRÉAL

Malumir R. Beavis

Michael Binetti

Derek Nawrot

Lily Roll

All Title Page Photos: http://www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?src=quick&contractUrl=2&assetType=image&phrase=community%20gardens#

“Gardens, scholars say, are the first sign of commitment to a community. When people plant corn they are saying, let’s stay here. And by their connection to the land, they are connected to one another.”
- Anne Raver

table of contents
Photo: http://www.santropolroulant.org/

INTRODUCTION SANTROPOL ROULANT MCGILL UNIVERSITY ALTERNATIVES MONTRÉAL MARKETS CITY OF MONTRÉAL COMMUNITY GARDENING PROGRAM CONCLUSION REFERENCES & INTERVIEW CONTACTS

... 2 ... 4 ... 8 ... 12 ... 16 . ... 20 ... 24 ... 26

introduction
Photo: Michael Binetti

griculture” and “city” are two words often found at opposite sides of the spectrum; two worlds that in the minds of most never interact. As more of the world’s population becomes urban, and in many countries predominantly urban, there is an increasing disconnect between the food that urban dwellers eat, and where it orginates. In many cases the food we eat comes from thousands of miles away, arriving in urban neighbourhoods that sometimes are victim to a disconnected population, at-risk youth, or even a lack of greenery. In terms of nature in the city, municipalities often focus on parks, waterfronts, ravines or nature preserves.   But what about food? What if a city decided to bring the farm to the city and unite these two parallel universes? What if urban dwellers were to grow more of the food they consume? What if gardens sprouted on the rooftops of downtown buildings? Besides providing fresh food produced closer to home, could urban food gardening have benefits that surpass simply providing the next meal? Can community gardens foster a greater sense of community and unite neighbours? Can community gardens foster job growth and help at-risk youth make more productive use of their free time? What about rooftops and the potential they have in turning concrete jungles into gardens in the sky? Can we garden on brownfields?   This group has delved into the world of community gardening in a city well known for the practice:

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Montréal, Quebec. From contacts heavily involved in the city that is home to one of North America’s most extensive community gardening programs and innovative programs such as Santropol Roulant, which brings meals-on-wheels to residents with food grown in the city, this report seeks to answer the aforementioned questions regarding community gardening.

We have conducted a number of interviews which include Martin Dorais from the City of Montréal’s Community Garden program, Tim Murphy from Santropol Roulant, Professor Vikram Bhatt from McGill University and the “Making the Edible Landscape” project, Isabelle Letourneau from Les Marches Publics de Montréal, and Ismael Hautecoeur from Alternatives’ “Rooftop Gardens Project”.

Photo: Lily Roll

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santropol roulant
Photo: Lily Roll

antropol Roulant is a community organization that is founded and run primarily by youth volunteers. Although they offer other social services, the majority of their work is built on food, which they use to “break social and economic isolation between the generations and to strengthen and nourish [the] local community” (Santropol Roulant, 2009). Since 1995, they have delivered over 380,000 meals to seniors and those in need of assistance, and have created over 275 jobs and internships for youth in the community. In conjunction with Professor Vikram Bhatt and McGill University, they run a community garden of which they use the produce for their ‘meals-on-wheels’ campaign. We spoke with Tim Murphy, Green Projects Coordinator, for the report on September 30, 2009, in the Santropol house in Montreal’s Plateau District. We discussed community gardening as well as the Santropol organization.  

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teau neighbourhood. Since then, they have evolved to opening a physical space for Santropol and have branched into a number of community programs. These include the Rooftop Garden project with McGill, kitchen workshops, bicycle workshops, and a second-hand community clothes exchange. Their latest achievement has been the purchase of their own location which will allow them more space, a garden on-site, and greater accessibility for community members.  

Level of Action
  Santropol is a grassroots, membership-based organization. A member consists of anyone, who in the past year has: a) received meals from Santropol; b) made a donation to Santropol; c) volunteered at Santropol; or d) been an employee at Santropol. They are governed by a Board of Directors who is elected at an annual general meeting.  

History  
Santropol Roulant was formed in 1995 by Chris Godsall, 25, and Keith Fitzpatrick, 27, at a difficult time in Montréal’s history. The city was characterized by the pending referendum, high youth unemployment, and the downloading of health care services from the federal government to the provincial government, and then the community. As many youth fled the city, Godsall and Fitzpatrick came up with the idea of a ‘meals-on-wheels’ service in order to access youth grant money to create jobs and meaningful employment. They started the delivery program with bikes and the community resources available in the Pla-

Budget
  In 2008, Santropol received $606,905 in revenues (Santropol Roulant, 2008). This is down slightly from the $655,349 they received in 2007. The majority of the revenue came from foundations and organizations ($287,040) and provincial funding ($107,987). Likewise, their expenses have increased from $620,240 in 2007 to $623,944 in 2008. Their major expenses are salaries, allowances, and social contributions which cost $434,202. Thus the organization had a deficit of $17,039 in 2008. While anticipating

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decline in revenue, the organization has focused on strict monitoring of expenditure. Kennedy explained that the organization needs to concentrate on finding a diverse funding base.   On the Santropol website is a ‘Wish List’ of items the organization requires that community members or other organizations can provide. This includes everything from a taxi coupon to help a client with transportation to and from an event ($10), to stamps ($25), to a small TV with built-in VCR ($70).  

Alliances
  Santropol partners with a variety of different organizations including the following:   a) Local Business - À la Carte Express, a local commercial food delivery service, has a fundraising event in which they have raised $20,000 over the past two years for the ‘Meals-on-Wheels’ campaign. Montréal Auto prix, a car dealership, has donated a 2001 Chevy Cavalier in order to assist with meal deliveries.   b) Non-profit organizations – Alternatives, which works with international development between Canada and the South, has partnered with Santropol on a number of occasions, including that of a rooftop garden. Moisson Montréal, the city’s food bank, is one of the main providers of food to Santropol.   c) Foundations – The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation has supported Santropol from the beginning, and in 2002, provided a major Capacity Building Grant.   d) Corporate Philanthropy – Petro Canada has invested and participated in many of Santropol’s activities. One of the challenges Kennedy said the organization has is that of how to better engage corporations while working to not sacrifice the integrity of the organization.

Staff profile

  Santropol is shaped by the work of their volunteers. Each day, dozens of people volunteer through the various programs. Examples include working at preparing the meals, delivering them, and maintaining the garden, which in the summer months includes up to 400 volunteers. Santropol looks to build the confidence and skills of the young volunteers while keeping their organization innovative and effective. Kennedy explained that the organization will accept most people, including several ‘at-risk’ youths through a special program. The fairly high turnover rate (volunteers typically last 3-4 months) is what Kennedy credits for the innovative ideas and says they encourage new suggestions. He cites the example of one volunteer who suggested they have a street-sale, which later evolved into a second-hand clothing exchange in the building’s basement.  

Photo: http://www.santropolroulant.org/

Photo: http://www.santropolroulant.org/

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santropol roulant
Photo: http://www.santropolroulant.org/

Vision/Aims/Values
  The rationale of Santropol is to use food as a vehicle to break social and economic isolation between generations and to strengthen and nourish the local community. They engage a diversity of people to take an active role in their communities through initiatives that address the health and food security needs of seniors and Montréalers living with a loss of autonomy.   There are a number of reasons behind the rationale, especially that of the ‘Meals-on-Wheels’ program. Firstly, there is a rapidly growing senior population in Canada. In Montréal, the proportion of the population over 65 is higher (15%) than in the rest of Quebec (12%) and Canada (12%) (Richard, 2000). Furthermore, more seniors live alone in Montréal (39.3%) than in the rest of Quebec (30%) and Canada (29%), and more seniors live below the poverty line in Montréal (36%) than in the rest of Quebec (28%) and Canada (19%) (2000). Public nursing homes in the Montréal area are currently full. The waiting period for clients in need can exceed 2-3 months (CLSC St-Louis de Parc, 2000).   In terms of hunger, from 1989-2000, the use of food banks in Canada has doubled (Wilson & Steinman, 2000). This use is especially pronounced among seniors. In 2000, some 26% of seniors visited the food bank more than once a month, and those reporting instances of experiencing weekly hunger has increased from 26% in 1995 to 31% in 2000 and from 34% to 47% for those experiencing monthly hunger.  

The Santropol solution is the following:   • Through its meal delivery service, Santropol Roulant delivers nutritious, balanced and hot meals 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. • It allows seniors living with a loss of autonomy to remain independence, living in the comfort and dignity of their own homes. • The cost of each meal is $3.50, much less than the cost of hospitalization. This preventative health measure has saved taxpayers an estimated 2.4 million dollars over the past five years. • Activities held by the Santropol Intergenerational Centre bring seniors outside their homes for educational and social activities with other seniors and with young people. This breaks the cycle of isolation and encourages new and meaningful friendships between generations. Daily http://www.santropolroulant.org/images/ website2006/2006/kitchen2.jpg delivery of meals by young volunteers serves to break the isolation of housebound seniors, significantly improving their moral and psychological health.  

Activities & Discussion from the Interview  
The Rooftop Garden project Santropol organizes with McGill and Alternatives is the cornerstone of their organization. The project commenced by utilizing Alternatives’ experience in the field of international agriculture, McGill’s expertise in academic research and design, and Santropol’s strong connection with the community. Kennedy said Santropol, with the help of

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volunteers, now almost exclusively runs the garden, while Alternatives and McGill use it to support urban agriculture. “It’s a good example of how development should work,” said Kennedy. Kennedy was also quick to admit that one of the reasons the project has stabilized from the first initial collaboration is because grant money has slowly dried up.   Kennedy estimated that the garden provides approximately 1/3 of the meal content for the ‘Meals-onWheels’ program. With demand increasing, it is hoped that the new site Santropol will move into next year will allow the organization to expand their food production by 50%. They are planning a rook-top garden that will allow them to harvest produce year-round. They will be able to sell any excess food at Montréal’s local markets.   With regard to the ‘Meals-on-wheels’ program, the meals are mostly organic, although it is difficult to go 100% organic because of the time it takes for the food prices to adjust. Recipients of the program pay $3.50 a meal, although that does not cover the full cost of the meal. There are 80-90 meals served a day and all meals include either fish, meat, or poultry. The meals are planned one year in advance and the recipient receives a calendar informing them of the meals.

For example, the meal for September 29, 2009 was a Chef’s salad with chicken and cheese, while for September 30, it was chicken cacciatore. The only days of the week food is not delivered are Thursdays and Sundays. Kennedy explained that Santropol used to deliver on Thursdays, but the organization members found themselves with no time to reconnect. They now take this time to meet and ensure they are ‘on the same page.’  

Achievements
  Santropol has been featured in a number of national and international media reports. They have received a number of awards for their work. Some of the most prestigious include: a) the Centraide Agnes C. Higgins award in 2006 for excellence in leadership in a community organization; b) the Hommage BénévolatQuébec awarded by the government of Quebec in 2005 to acknowledge the exceptional and precious contributions of volunteers and community organizations; and c) the Arthur Kroeger College Award for Citizenship and Community Affairs in 2005 to recognize leaders and innovators in public affairs who, by their achievements, have made Canadians more informed, their institutions more effective, and their country a better place to live.

Photo: http://www.santropolroulant.org/

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mcgill university
Photo: Lily Roll

‘M

aking the Edible Landscape’ was a report published by McGill University 2003 concerning the growth of food in an urban landscape and neighbourhood impacts. ‘Edible Landscapes’ refers to the visual, physical, and social impacts of the production of food in urban areas (McGill, 2003). It brings together information and provides lessons on the physical design, economic, technical, managerial, and social dimensions of urban agriculture in Montréal. The report is broken down into three sections which include a case study of urban agriculture in Montréal, examples from around the world, and best-practice cases. The report laid the framework for a project entitled ‘The Edible Campus,’ which is a 120 square meter container garden on the campus of McGill, and is supported in co-operation with Alternatives and Santropol Roulant. We spoke with Professor Vikram Bhatt, lead professor of the report and Faculty of Urban Planning member, on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 in his office at McGill University. We discussed the report as well as the current situation of community gardening in Montréal.  

History
  The ‘Making the Edible Landscapes’ report was the final product of a 2002-2003 class in the McGill School of Architecture Minimal Cost Housing Group (MCHG). The MCHG is a research unit with a focus on international issues, especially that of human settlement in developing world nations. In looking at urban agriculture, students attempted to address a number of open-ended questions, including the following:

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a) What are the land use and planning implications of this activity in residential areas? b) Who grows what where and why? c) Can the sector compete with traditional agriculture? d) If not, does it have a special social, economic, or developmental role? e) What are the motivations of urban gardeners? f ) What can the city do to promote urban gardens?   The project was completed in two stages. First, the students conducted a background survey of literature regarding urban agricultural studies throughout North America and the world, and then an in-depth case study of Montréal. Some of the international examples they looked at were Africa-Kampala; and Caribbean-Havana, Port-of-Spain. The majority of our interview questions dealt with Montréal.  

Colombo, Sri Lanka; Kampala, Uganda; and Rosario, Argentina. The community gardens researched in the study fell under the City of Montréal Community Gardens program. More information on the level of action involved in these gardens is available on the organization profile of the City of Montréal Community Gardens.  

Staff profile

  The MCGH team consisted of two editors, a project team of seven students, a teaching assistant, and Vikram Bhatt. One of the main challenges in conducting the project was cultural. The team of students consisted of five Chinese nationals, one Indian, and one Norwegian, while the gardeners interviewed spoke English and French and included recent immigrants Level of Action predominantly from South-East Asia. Bhatt said that there are sometimes language difficulties, but they   This project was completed exclusively by the MCHG. would always understand the demonstration of gardening techniques and were always offered a sam  pling of the produce. Budget     The funding for this project came from a grant from Alliances the International Development Research Centre in   Ottawa, McGill’s MCHG, and the Urban Management As the research has to be non-biased, there were no Program of the United Nations Human Settlements alliances involved with municipal or provincial govProgram (UN-HABITAT). Part of the funding will go to ernments, or with outside sources for this particular coordinate research being undertaken in three cities: project. However, ‘The Edible Campus’ project came

Photo: Edible Landscape

Photo: Edible Landscape

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mcgill university
Photo: Lily Roll

as the result of a collaboration with two local NGOs: Alternatives and Santropol Roulant.

ier communities.  

  Vision/Aims/Values
  When attempting to understand urban agriculture, the report provides many more questions than answers (McGill, 2003). The initial aim was to provide insight into practices in Montréal, North America, and internationally. Although community gardens have existed historically for quite some time, little research has been conducted into not only the importance of urban agriculture, but also how it has changed the social fabrics of urban areas. Asking questions about the elements of urban design were also considered crucial to the study. The study was fortunate to use the city of Montréal as a palette. There are a number of gardens ranging from private backyard to community (including those run under both the municipality and NGOs). The community gardening program, with close to 7,000 participants, is one of the largest in North America. The initial goal of the report, therefore, was to inform planners, city officials, and architects about the potential for gardening on under-utilized urban land and to provide best-case scenarios.   The aim of the ‘Edible Campus’ is to further explore ways of food production in cities, and to describe how the garden is a model to help ordinary citizens, especially students, to produce their own food and green their neighbourhoods while promoting health-

Activities & Discussion from the Interview
  The final ‘Making the Edible Landscapes’ report shone a light on many valuable lessons for the community. Firstly, the issue of food security is not as relevant to Montréal as some of the developing world cities studied. Having said that, various studies have shown the social and economic gap between citizens in Canadian cities has become increasingly polarized. Allowing some of the underprivileged the tools to grow their own foods bridges a number of gaps including healthier eating habits, citizen participation, etc.   One of the interesting features of the Montréal gardens is the cultural diversity involved. Immigrants, especially from South-East Asian countries (Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, etc.), have brought their own gardening techniques and incorporated them with Quebecois growing techniques. Bhatt reminded us that in the 1970s, we did not have as large of a selection of imported foods as today. In looking at the development of North American foods, he said that we have borrowed many more ideas internationally than locally and fused them. As exemplified by the Montréal gardens, gardeners often exchange produce amongst themselves, leading to a larger selection on the dinner table.   Secondly, especially among the city-sponsored gardens, the gardening program promotes local democracy amongst community members. Each garden is

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the responsibility of the owner and the political system tries to create as democratic a playing field as possible. Gardeners elect a revolving leader each year to oversee the garden as well as ensure that gardeners are following the rules and keeping their plots clean. Gardeners must collectively work out the regulations and governing structure of their gardens.   Thirdly, the gardens have become essential in creating a deeper sense of community in Montréal. The report observes that to the poor immigrant, especially amongst those who do not speak the local languages and cannot find a job, plot ownership affords social aid, self-esteem, and confidence. One of the challenges the city faces is opening new gardens to satisfy the growing demand. Bhatt said that depending on the neighbourhood, there can be no wait for a garden, or there can be a wait of two to three years.   Fourthly is the strengthening of the invisible links between institutions, NGOs, and the community. Bhatt cited the example of an east Montréal parish that allowed community members to use their property for a garden. This is an example of how an institution can remain relevant to the community while attracting new members. Also important is the attraction of young people to urban agriculture. Bhatt used the example of the McGill Food Systems Project, which uses student research and community collaboration to improve the food operation on their campus. “We want to find out where our food is coming from. We

want to source our suppliers,” said Bhatt.   Looking forward, Bhatt said one of the main challenges is learning to think beyond the community gardens. He says the goal is not just to produce fresh tomatoes, but to turn around our cities and make them greener and more positive in terms of what they can contribute.  

Achievements
  The Edible Campus project was the recipient of the 2008 National Urban Design Award of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Canadian Institute of Planners, and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. The MCHG has an active publication program with an international readership, and its publications are available online.

Photo: Edible Landscape

Photo: Edible Landscape

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alternatives
Photo: Michael Binetti

lternatives is an International NGO that influences policymakers as well as the general public regarding injustice and the need for equality in the Global South and across Canada. Run on a membership basis, Alternatives has been creating change throughout the world since 1994. The organization aims to “...strengthen citizen action and reinforce the contribution of social movements in the construction of sustainable societies,” (Alternatives, 2008). Although Alternatives is comprised of many branches and forms of action , the main focus at their National office in Montréal is the Rooftop Garden Project. We spoke with Ismael Hautecouer, Project Coordinator of the Rooftop Gardens Project and the Coordinator of the National Team in hopes of discussing Alternatives’ role in the gardens project as well as their organization’s achievements since they began.  

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History
  Alternatives ‘Action and Communication Network for International Development’ was founded as an NGO in 1994. The organization focuses on two specific areas. The first is their Youth Internship Programs which “[emphasize]...comprehensive understandings of international realities, as well as the encouragement of work that advances Alternatives’ message of justice.” (Alternatives, 2002). Interns are sent to international destinations to make Alternatives’ goals a reality in the Global South by implementing similar initiatives that Alternatives has made a success here.   The second focus for the organization is its engage-

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ment within Canada. Alternatives is focused on publishing the message of international, national and cultural news through their monthly newspaper circulated by members. At the local level, the organization is focused on “...environmental sustainability initiatives, participatory democracy, out-reach and solidarity programs with immigrant communities and the promotion of pro-social policies,” (Alternatives, 2002). They attempt to educate and inform both the general public and policy makers on the importance of having concern for equality and justice in the South.  

this individual ensures that all employees adhere to the tasks outlined “...by the democratic body of the organization,” (Alternatives, 2008).  

Budget
  As an NGO, Alternatives is funded by donor support and membership fees. Each year, the organization receives donations from thousands of supporters. Alternatives usually receives funding for specific projects with which they are involved, rather than for the organization as a whole.

“And when community gardens go up in a neighbourhood, it’s amazing how the people start paying attention to other issues.” -Margaret Mora
Level of Action
  As previously mentioned, Alternatives is an international NGO. Their success is based on membership and their annual General Assembly of Members meetings. Members are individuals who support Alternatives’ Declaration, pay yearly membership fees and participate in activities organized by Alternatives (Alternatives, 2008).   During the organization’s annual meetings, the Board of Directors is elected, and both budgeting allocations as well as priorities are outlined for the year (Alternatives, 2008). The thirteen Directors then elect the Executive Committee. The newly elected Executive Committee then oversees all Alternatives employees and “...[ensures] that all decisions made by the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee are enacted,” (Alternatives, 2008). The organization’s General Director is appointed from the Executive Committee;   The focus of their Montréal office is the Rooftop Gardens Project which receives support and funding from nine separate bodies: The International Development Research Centre, Fonds d’action québécois pour le développment durable (FAQDD), EcoAction Program of Environment Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, University of Québec, the City of Montréal, the EJLB Foundation, the Kauffmann Foundation, and the Foundation of Greater Montréal. These organizations make projects such as the Rooftop Gardens Project both possible and successful.  

Staff Profile
  Alternatives employs approximately 25, but is run primarily by the support of youth volunteers who take part in international internships in order to project the values and goals of the organization. These interns travel to various places to encourage the imple-

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alternatives
Photo: Michael Binetti

mentation of projects such as the Rooftop Gardens Project on a much larger scale for the communities of the Global South. Alternatives thrives on volunteers to change the way projects implemented here are adapted to the projects implemented internationally. Hautecouer states that every community is different, so each project must be different, even if the goal of developing sustainable communities is the same.  

Alliances
  Alternatives’ alliances vary from a variety of different bodies. The organization works with government bodies to influence policymakers, as well as grassroots organizations such as Santropol Roulant to create projects that positively influence communities.   Through its partnership with Santropol Roulant on the Rooftop Gardens Project, Alternatives’ mission is not only to better the City of Montréal through urban agriculture initiatives, but also to translate their findings on the gardens’ success towards other communities in the Global South.  

Vision/Aims/Values
  As is outlined in their slogan, Alternatives is “building together a different world,” (Alternatives, 1994). They aim to “...raise public awareness of international and local policy debates, their interconnectedness and their relevance to peoples’ lives.” (Alternatives, 2002). It is through the development of sustainable societies that Alternatives believes a better world is possible.

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  From initiatives to organize communities, like the Rooftop Gardens Project, to providing people with the knowledge on international and national issues through the circulation of their newspaper, Alternatives is able to change the world’s perspectives, one small step at a time. It is their goal “...to help the networking, building, and promoting of innovative initiatives in popular and social movements that are fighting for economic, social, political, cultural and environmental rights,” (Alternatives, 2008).

Activities & Discussion from the Interview
  Through their values on improving the rights of others, Alternatives has provided the basis for creating sustainable communities. Focusing mainly on the Rooftop Gardens Project, Ismael informed us that the people involved have sustained a healthier lifestyle through urban agriculture. The Rooftop Gardens Project in Montréal was the test for Alternatives to see if the project could be implemented in the Global South. Its success here determined what direction the organization could take to help others on an international level to develop a sustainable community.  

A self-professed “landscape story teller,” Ismael stated that it was his job to change the perspective of Montréal residents by “...creating a space for which gardens can happen,” (Hautecouer, 2009). He stated that the world is too focused on destroying the natural environment, so Alternatives’ role is to be proactive and change the poor habits to which we have become so accustomed and to provide alternative options to the way we live our lives. The example here is to provide people with the tools to grow their own food and cut down on the damages associated with the transportation for food cross-border and elsewhere. This project is one simple task in Alternatives’ goals of creating sustainable communities.   The Rooftop Gardens Project, Ismael stated, is more of a strategy that the organization can use to implement in the Global South so that more people can benefit from the concept of community gardens. It is through these gardens that he believes the Global South can learn to engage in food security, food sovereignty, buying local and beginning to understand their environmental footprint.

Photo: Lily Roll

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montréal markets
Photo: Michael Binetti

ounded in 1993, The Corporation de gestion des marches publics de Montréal, also known as Les Marches publics de Montréal, is a non-profit agency in charge of the operation, management, marketing, and restoration of Montréal’s numerous public markets, and for a large number of corner market and flower stalls around the city. The corporation brings together approximately 215 stakeholders including the City of Montréal, farmers, and vendors to ensure that Montréal residents have access to the best selection and quality when it comes to produce, meat, poultry and culinary products.   The corporation manages four free-standing markets which are open to the public seven days a week, and which draw a metropolitan base of shoppers. These markets are Marche Jean-Talon in Montréal’s Little Italy district, Marche Atwater southwest of downtown Montréal, Marche Maisonneuve located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, and Marche Lachine in the city’s Lachine district.   In addition, the corporation manages thirteen “neighbourhood markets” located mostly in the central inner-city neighbourhoods of Montréal, including Vieux Montréal, Centre-Ville Montréal, Avenue Du Mont Royal, and Cote-Des-Neiges, to name a few. On September 30, 2009, we spoke with Isabelle Letourneau, Directrice des communications for the Marches Publics de Montréal. We discussed the formation of the corporation, the impact the markets have on the neighbourhoods in which they are located, various projects in which they are involved, and the future of

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the markets.  

Staff profile

  Isabelle Letourneau is Director of Communications History for the Marches Publics corporation. The corporation Like many cities, Montréal’s markets in the 1980s has a small staff base located in a head office on the were starting to show their age, and were in some third floor of the Marche Atwater in Montréal. cases falling into a slow decline. By the late 1980s, the City of Montréal decided that managing public markets was becoming too great a burden for the city to handle, and so in 1993 the non-profit agency, The Corporation de gestion des marches publics de Montréal, also called Les Marches publics de Montréal was formed. The idea for a non-profit organization came about during a complete review of the markets conducted by the City of Montréal, as well as during stakeholder consultation in which market vendors voiced their opinions on not wanting the markets to become privatized entities. The idea for the market corporation allowed the City of Montréal to maintain ownership of the markets, while allowing the market corporation access to conduct daily business, and to focus more resources and human resource inputs into the markets.

  Budget Structure
Les Marches publics de Montréal is funded by rental fees paid by the various vendors at each market building.

Alliances
  Les Marches Publics maintains alliances with local farmers in Quebec, and vendors who run some of the stalls in the markets. A growing mandate of the corporation is to promote local food production as interaction with local farmers is a key in promoting local food at the markets.  

Photo: Michael Binetti

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montréal markets
Photo: Michael Binetti

  Les Marches publics de Montréal corporation has a general assembly which meets once a year and is made up of nine board members from the Marche publics de Montréal corporation structure. The corporation pays a lease on the market buildings to the City of Montréal, which still maintains ownership of the property and market buildings. The corporation maintains day-to-day control of the markets, marketing, program development, as well as restoration and expansion.

Vision/Aims/Values
  Les Marches Publics de Montréal’s aim is to promote and support the public markets of Montréal while maintaining the best selection and most fresh produce and food offerings to Montréal residents. The corporation’s objective is “To manage the public markets, to ensure accessibility to the population of Montréal and to contribute to the future development of the public markets.”(Marche Publics de Montréal)  

Achievements
With the takeover of the Montréal markets by Les Marches Publics de Montréal, revival and growth could take place with the new level of human resource inputs and interest in the markets. The corporation has had many successes, the largest of which being the reopening of the previously closed Marche Maisonneuve which had originally closed its doors in 1962. In 1978, a petition by local residents to reopen

the market had some success with the City of Montréal’s allowing farmers to open stalls in the area surrounding the old market area. The real rebirth came in 1995, when Les Marches Publics de Montréal opened the new Marche Maisonneuve market building. One of the city’s oldest markets finally opened again and presently continues the tradition of farmer’s markets on the site of the old market.   In 2004, Les Marches Publics de Montréal also oversaw the opening of the Marche Jean-Talon expansion, which saw a new market building with additional selling space and an underground parking garage built on one side of the market.   In addition to the two major building projects, the corporation has also initiated a very popular and wellattended cooking class program called “Chef en Residence”. The program invites chefs to predetermined market locations to prepare meals with a specific theme using food sold at the markets. The program teaches participants how to use produce and other food items in such creative or different ways that they may not have thought to attempt prior to the event. As mentioned, the program has had significant success and provides a draw for residents to go to the markets and to learn about the importance of not only the city’s markets, but also the importance of, local food and of supporting farmers as well as the various market vendors. With leadership from Les Marches Publics, Montréal’s public markets have a bright and prosperous future,

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as they are highly popular, and do not feel tired as they did in the 1980s. The corporation has been successful in causing people to become excited about food, the markets, and the experience of going to the market.  

Activities & Discussion from the Interview
  While Letourneau said that she is not aware of any of the markets being responsible for turning a community around, she did mention that the markets are a drawing card for new residential development advertisements. For example, condominium developments around the Lachine Canal near the Marche Atwater promote the buildings’ proximity to the market. Developments in other areas of the city also promote

their proximity to the various markets. In this regard, the markets do help in bringing in residents who value being close to the market districts, and who would perhaps otherwise choose another area to live if not for their close proximity to the markets.   The markets, including the neighbourhood markets, assist in animating the places in which they are located. They lead to more interesting, busy, and well-serviced communities, while bringing fresh food and various food items almost to the doorsteps of many residents. The convenience of being near one of the major markets makes the neighbourhoods in which they are located much more attractive, as such residents know they do not have to travel a long distance to obtain fresh food and the other offerings of a market.

 

Photo: Michael Binetti

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city of montréal community gardening program
Photo: Lily Roll

ince its inception within Montréal in 1975, the Community Garden program has thrived to now include 97 gardens with 8,195 allotments. The City-run program draws together neighbourhood residents, and fosters diversity, appreciation of the outdoors, and a sense of community identity. On September 29, 2009, we met with Martin Dorais, one of six Horticultural Animators working for the Community Gardens project run by the City of Montréal.  

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History
  Prior to the initiation of the Community Garden program, Montréalers had already practiced community gardening for decades by utilizing vacant land to transform it into gardens. The program was initiated in 1975 when a group of citizens wanted to cultivate a lot made vacant after a fire; they were supported by the Botanical Garden and the City of Montréal’s Beautification Department. By 1987, 75 community gardens had been established. The Botanical Garden remained in charge of the program until 1988, when the Department of Recreation and Community Development took over responsibility for its administration. This division is now known as the Department of Culture, Sports, Leisure and Social Development (City of Montréal, n.d., pp. 3—4).

Level of Action
  The community gardening takes place at the municipal level. If a community wants a new garden, they must first mobilize together and submit an official request to their borough’s administrative office within

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the City of Montréal. The City evaluates the desire and need for a garden within the community; the greater the push by the community’s residents to begin a garden, the faster the process becomes. A soil analysis is then required before the application can be approved; this can cost the City up to $15,000. If the soil is deemed safe, the City then provides the materials to start up the garden, the watering system, tools and sheds (Dorais, 2009).  

Montréal’s community gardening program are six Horticultural Animators, also known as “garden counsellors”. These individuals are retained by the City on a seasonal basis, and visit the gardens on a rotating schedule to provide advice and guidance to gardeners. Animators also serve as a liaison between the City’s administration and the garden committees by coordinating and authorizing servicing requests. They also organize events held by the gardens, as well as sit on judging panels for the annual “Best Garden Contest”. Budget & Funding Sources     Apart from minimal fees collected from members, the Also included in the running of the gardens are volCity of Montréal funds the entire program. Its total untary gardening committees. These committees are annual budget of $315,400 includes such expendi- elected by garden members, and “supervise daily actures as ongoing maintenance, new layout of existing tivities in the garden sites and manage the distribu-

“Montréal’s living environments include a wealth of community facilities: elementary and secondary schools, places of worship, libraries, community gardens, cultural centres, sports and community centres and health and long-term care institutions.”
VILLE DE MONTREAL MASTER PLAN SECTION 4.1

gardens, communications, coordination and horticultural facilitation, to name a few. Fees payable by members vary slightly from garden to garden, as each individual garden committee determines the fees required for its garden. Member fees generally range from $5.00 to $7.00 for each member per season. In addition to the member fee is the lot fee, which is approximately $10.00 per season. These fees do not apply to welfare recipients, however, and some garden committees establish that retirees need not pay fees either (City of Montréal, 2007, pp. 12—13).

tion of plots while the horticultural animators assist them in these tasks” (City of Montréal, 2007, p. 5).   Youth gardens are overseen by a youth program director who hires Group Animators to assist in conducting a day camp program (City of Montréal, 2007, p. 8).  

Alliances  
The only real alliance the Community Gardens program holds is that with the City’s Public Works and Environment Department which conducts waste collection for the gardens (City of Montréal, 2007, p. 13).

Staff Profile  

The primary staff involved in working for the City of  Vision/Aims/Values

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city of montréal community gardening program
Photo: Michael Binetti

  The management plan for the community gardens has several priorities. It seeks to allow citizens of all ages to engage in gardening within a community context, so they can improve not only their quality of life, but also the natural environment; to ensure democratic access of community gardening to all Montréal citizens by establishing new community gardens which appropriately reflect the needs of the community; to provide support to the gardening committees as well as offer practical gardening advice through Horticultural Animators; and to enhance the current garden network by creating park zones on as many sites as is appropriate and possible (City of Montréal, 2007, p. 5).  

Activities & Discussion from the Interview
  In addition to the City’s regular community gardens are the youth gardens which house a natural science and horticulture program designed for young people between the ages of 9 and 14, as well as a regular youth gardening program. This program encourages youth engagement in gardening, while the day camp program offers natural science activities in addition to gardening (City of Montréal, 2007, pp. 8—9). Dorais stated that the community gardens themselves act as self-contained neighbourhoods, complete with their own politics and interaction. While this has the advantage of fostering a sense of community between gardeners, there are also disadvantages. Sometimes negative interactions occur, causing rivalry between gardeners and prompting such

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acts as vandalism, theft and racism.  Dorais expressed that despite these challenges, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. He said that the gardens do foster a sense of community, as they create neighbourhood identity and pride, as well as cause residents to mobilize together as they engage in producing fresh food for themselves and for their families.   The Horticultural Animators interact with gardeners on a constant basis, providing guidance and education while addressing incongruent practices and behaviours. For example, pesticides and fertilizers are not allowed, but the Horticultural Animators do not simply enforce this rule. Instead, they come alongside the gardeners and provide guidance as to which plants attract specific types of insects and pollinators to enhance the quality of the produce. Also encouraged is the reuse of plant remnants as fertilizer; the goal is to reduce the amount of organic material that goes to the landfill, and to compost instead. Not only is this method less expensive, but it is also more efficient. The process of educating gardeners to thoroughly understand and practice this is a lengthy process, however.   Interest in community gardens is high in Montréal, with waiting lists up to two years in peripheral boroughs, and up to seven years in the city’s downtown. The reason for the extreme nature of the downtown waiting list is not only due to the more compact nature of built form in the downtown, but also due to soil contamination from the Industrial Era. Contaminants range from Volatile Organic Compounds to heavy metals and traces of petroleum. Despite this setback, “people want to be a part” (Dorais, 2009, personal communication) of these gardening communities, and therefore the combination of the downtown’s increased population, garden closures due to soil contamination, and the fewer garden space opportunities lends itself to innovation. For example, container gardening has become more popular for specific types of produce such as peppers and tomatoes, both of which have been found to produce at

even higher yields in containers.   The Community Garden program has also been instrumental in helping new immigrants to establish their new lives in Canada. Dorais described how one garden has a number of Indian female immigrants who have been discovering a new sense of self-esteem and empowerment through the gardens. He explained that the gardens provide them with a plot of land of which they have “ownership”, and that they can make the decisions they deem best accordingly. As this is a departure from the patriarchal format to which their lives have been generally shaped to conform, the community gardens help them realize their capacity to make positive changes and decisions in life, even if only in a small way (Dorais, 2009, personal communication).  

Photo: Michael Binetti

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conclusion
Photo: Michael Binetti

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ur research and meetings demonstrate that community gardening, as well as interconnected programs such as Santropol Roulant and Les Marches Publics have had significant impact on the urban landscape of Montréal by helping residents feed their families with nourishing, fresh food; by uniting neighbours; by providing relief to the pocketbook of many; by providing meals for seniors and other isolated individuals; and by bringing greenery to rooftops.   Toronto has two great market districts, one of which is centred on St. Lawrence Market, and the other on Kensington Market. Toronto, however, lacks a centralized management department to maintain, restore, and promote our market districts. In this regard, Toronto could take a look at Montréal’s example of having an arms-length agency to maintain the markets and help them flourish to their full potential. The idea of having little neighbourhood markets in squares is also an idea that Toronto could promote to a greater degree than it currently does with the few weekly-run markets that do occur across the city in the summer. Toronto could turn these markets into seven-day-aweek operations such as Montréal does, and could promote the opening of markets in neighbourhoods in need of better access to fresh food offerings. Markets can be a big selling point for a city and can offer an experience not had in a big box food store; for this reason Toronto should promote and support our markets to the same extent as that of Montréal.

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  This report has overviewed how community gardening has played a vital part in community development in Montréal. Accordingly, it is our hope that in the near future planners will begin to earnestly include community gardening into community development plans, just as naturally as they include services such as community centres, housing, and after-school programmes, in order to further the healthy development of not only the neighbourhoods of Toronto, but also those of cities and regions across the globe.  

Photo: Michael Binetti

Photo: Michael Binetti

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references & interview contacts
References
Alternatives. Our Organisation. Retrieved October 16, 2009, from http://www.alternatives.ca/eng/our-organisation/   City of Montréal. (n.d.). Montréal’s community gardening program. Montréal, QC: City of Montréal, pp. 3 – 4   City of Montreal. (2006). World Urban Forum 2006 – Vancouver, Canada. Montreal’s Community Gardening Program. Retrieved electronically September 17, 2009 from: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/page/librairie_en/documents/Montreal_Community_Gardening_ Program.pdf   City of Montréal. (2007). Montréal’s community gardening program. Montréal, QC: City of Montréal, pp. 3 – 4, 5, 8 – 9, 12 – 13   Cognition – The Voice of Canadian Organic Growers. (1993). Montreal Community Gardens. Retrieved electronically September 17, 2009 from: http://eap.mcgill.ca/MagRack/COG/COG_A_93_04.htm   Dorais, M. (2009). Personal communication, received September 29, 2009 Ensemble Terre-Ciel. (2009). Organization website: http://www.ensembleterreciel.com/   McGill University. (2005). Making the Edible Landscape – A Study of Urban Agriculture in Montreal. Retrieved electronically September 18, 2009 from: http://www.mcgill.ca/files/mchg/Intro.pdf   Marches Publics de Montreal. (2009). Organization website. Retrieved electronically September 18, 2009 from: http://www.marchespublics-mtl.com/   The Rooftop Garden Project. About Us. Retrieved October 16, 2009, from http://www.lesjardins.ca/en/about   Santropol Roulant. (2009). Organization website. Retrieved electronically September 17, 2009 from: http:// www.santropolroulant.org/sof/en_home.html   Spacing Montreal. (2008). More community gardens to be closed. Retrieved electronically September 18, 2009 from: http://spacingmontreal.ca/2008/04/01/more-community-gardens-to-be-closed/

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Interview Contacts
  1. Name: Isabelle Letourneau Organization: Montreal Markets Corresponding website: http://www.marchespublicsmtl.com/   2. Name: Vikram Bhatt Organization: McGill University Corresponding website: http://www.mcgill.ca/files/ mchg/Intro.pdf   3. Name: Tim Murphy Organization: Santropol Roulant Corresponding website: http://www.santropolroulant.org/sof/en_home.html   4. Name: Martin Dorais Organization: City of Montreal Corresponding website: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/ pls/portal/docs/page/librairie_en/documents/Montreal_Community_Gardening_Program.pdf   5. Name: Ismael Hautecoeur Organization: Alternatives Montreal Corresponding website: http://www.alterinter.org/article2505.html?lang=fr 

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