the growing pains of urban agriculture

Published on Montreal Gazette, by Donna Nebenzahl, Aug 1, 2015.

… The beds of this Action Communiterre collective garden in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce are already yielding lettuce, Swiss chard, peas, nasturtiums and a variety of herbs, along with raspberries from the bushes that form a pollinating garden around the edges of the space. The runner beans are climbing above the carrots, marigolds grow alongside eggplant, and peppers and tomatoes are being tied to strings attached to the wood frames that support them.

Ralph Pettofrezza, who has been participating since the garden started five years ago, helped build those frames, along with many of the raised beds and trellises. He began gardening here because he felt that his Italian father was using too many chemicals on his own garden. “I was interested in organic food. Plus I like fixing stuff, and all the variety,” he says.

Like the majority of Montreal’s urban gardens, the produce from these collective gardens are grown without use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. The object is to give city dwellers access to good, healthy food, says Action Communiterre director Julia Girard … //

… According to Agriculture Montreal — a partnership that includes UQAM’s Urban Agriculture Laboratory (AU/LAB) — there are 128 hectares of Montreal land being used for urban agriculture initiatives, with the participation of 42 per cent of Montrealers. These projects vary from growing hops for the beer that will mark the city’s 375th anniversary to fruit picking from backyard fruit trees, community gardens where everyone has their own plot, collective gardens like St-Thomas where labour and produce are shared by many, or sidewalk gardens where produce can be taken freely by passersby.

Quebec City boasts an expansive and impressive series of gardens in front of the National Assembly, including an alley of herbs, kitchen gardens, gardens of fruit bushes, medicinal plants and masses of edible flowers. This three-year-old venture, an urban agriculture initiative meant to focus on crops typically grown in this province, was designed in collaboration with Laval University and les Urbainculteurs, who are also responsible for Quebec City’s recent “urban honey” project, installing rooftop hives.

Urban gardening has made a comeback, says Jean-Philippe Vermette, co-founder of the AU/LAB and its urban agriculture summer school. “(Montreal was) in the ’70s a pioneer in urban agriculture with our community gardens. We had the largest in North America; other cities were looking at our program.”

Interest in urban agriculture then plateaued for 30 years, Vermette said, but has swelled in the last decade. “Many see it as a social and political movement, thinking about how we develop and take care of food assets.”

Take Jamie Klinger’s Grass to Gardens Project in the Plateau, started this year with a grant from the Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal. “I’ve been working on a project called JoatU, or Jack of all Trades Universe, a trade/barter exchange system, an alternative economic system that gets people to do things for the community and rewards them for community activities,” says Klinger, who has degrees in marketing and philosophy. He went door to door asking neighbours if he could use their front yards to grow vegetables for them and to share with others.

He and others built borders out of pallets in a six-by-three-foot space and used self-watering containers in other spaces, now filled with about 110 plants including squash, lettuce, peppers, broccoli and tomatoes … //

… But as the number of agricultural initiatives in this city grows, so can the obstacles.

At the new Westhaven Communiterre garden, in an area on the western edge of N.D.G., vegetables have been taken, whole plants pulled from the earth.

Perhaps people don’t understand that anyone can join a collective garden, Girard says, plus it’s hard to find good food that’s affordable.

“In the St-Thomas garden,” she said, “the church keeps us safe, though at other places we have more struggles, besides losing our plants.”

At another Communiterre garden at St-Raymond School, Girard said, “they built a parking lot over one of over gardens; I would say school administrators don’t understand, even though we offer workshops to schools.”

In N. D. G, a garden in front of a condo building that had seemed so promising to community groups and residents has been destroyed in a dispute.

Lisa Charbel, who founded Jardins sans frontières/Gardens without borders with her husband Joey Khoury three years ago, helped design the garden, on Sherbrooke St. near Draper Ave. She specializes in community gardening projects and offering homesteading workshops for backyard spaces, as well as creating entrepreneurship conferences focusing on social economy.

“We collaborate with a lot of people, here and all over the world,” says Charbel.

The destruction of the garden was an even more devastating blow those who planted it, members of Incredible Edibles, an offshoot of Transition N.D.G., a volunteer group that advocates for social change through community initiatives. “We’re financed through volunteers, people donating seeds and plants,” organizer Jane Barr says.

Last year, Incredible Edibles offered to transform three unused tracts of land in front of the condo building, with the “wholehearted support” of the condo board. “They paid for the soil and the wooden perimeter for those three garden spaces,” Barr says. “They’re not gardeners themselves, so they were thrilled that we came along” … //

… (full text, pictures, video, related articles, comments).

Related Links:


Find Permaculture also:

  • on YouTube-search;
  • on Google Images-search;
  • on en.wikipedia: Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture (as a systematic method) was first coined by Australians David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to “permanent agriculture”,[1] but was expanded to stand also for “permanent culture”, as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy …;

Find permaculture principles:

on Google Images-search;

on these websites:

siehe auch:

  • – Wildbienenstände: die Krönung des Wildbienenschutzes im “Wohnungsbausektor” stellt ein kompletter, überdachter Bienenstand dar, der mit unterschiedlichen Nistgelegenheiten verschiedenen Ansprüchen bzw. Arten gerecht wird …;

Other Links:

Dealing With Mass Killings in America: Funding Our Children, Not Our Wars, on naked capitalism, by Yves Smith, August 3, 2015;

The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm, on Dissident Voice, by Robert Hunziker, Aug 2, 2015;

Why Do So Many US Citizens Enable Our Police State? on Corrente, by libbyliberal, Aug 2, 2015;

The Mass Killer and the National Security State, on TomDispatch, by Karen J. Greenberg, Aug 2, 2015;

The Right to the Truth about the Mass Killings of 11 September 2001, on Dissident Voice, by Elias Davidsson, Aug 2, 2015: … A gross violation of human rights gives rise to a set of state obligations, including that of providing remedies to the victims. Among such remedies is the duty to establish the true circumstances surrounding the violation and ensuring the identification and punishment of those responsible for it …;

Socialist Projects’ Union Arts Service cartoons, by Aug 2, 2015;

The Dreadful Saviors: Feared Shiite Militias Battle Islamic State in Iraq, on Spiegel Online International, by Christoph Reuter, July 31, 2015 (Photo Gallery): Earlier, fighters with the League of Righteous Shiite militia tortured and murdered. But now they intend to save Iraq from the Islamic State. Can it work? A trip to the front in the city of Baiji explains much about the current state of the war;

Eucatastrophe is Greek, on The Confluence, by riverdaughter, June 29, 2015: a eucatastrophe is a term and plot device invented by JRR Tolkien. It means something that happens in the story that at first looks very bad, like, Merry and Pippen being captured by the Orcs and taken off to Isengard …;

Dirk Müller + Gregor Gysi über Griechenland-Rettung und Finanzierung, 10.39 min, von Newskritik Archive am 5. Februar 2015 hochgeladen;

uploaded by OSHO International:

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