Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dorval Community Garden at St. Mark’s

On a beautiful sunny spring day an organic vegetable garden was installed at the Parish of St. Andrew and St. Mark, Dorval. The garden was made possible by a “Growth, Understanding and Ministry” (G.U.M.) grant from the Anglican Diocese of Montreal and a generous donation from Margaret Beattie, a member of the parish.

The garden is a joint project with CPE Dorval, a daycare that operates on the parish’s property. The produce grown will be donated to Dorval Community Aid (DCA), a local support organization that among other services provides emergency food aid to Dorval residents. Some produce may also go to other organizations that serve area residents in need.

Table de Quartier Sud de L’Ouest-de-L’ile recently published a document titled “Portrait of the Population of the Southern West Island.” The document indicates that, of all the Southern West Island, the lowest median after-tax income is found in Dorval and that 13.1% of Dorval residents live below the low-income threshold and that the vast majority of West Islanders live in the areas with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables with 83.5% of residents of the territory having zero or negligible access to fresh fruits and vegetables within walking distance.

St. Andrew and St. Mark has an established relationship with DCA and members of the parish regularly donate non-perishable food items; with the garden the parish will be able to donate fresh organic produce, which is difficult for organizations such as DCA to obtain for their clients. DCA is only a 10-minute walk from the parish, making transporting the produce very easy. Starting an organic vegetable garden seemed like a good way to support the community in addition to being a way to live into the Fifth Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion, “to strive to safeguard the integrity of Creation, and Sustain and Renew the life of the Earth.” Growing food locally decreases “food miles,” and thus use of fossil fuels. Urban gardens also provide natural places for urban pollinators.

Urban Seedling, a Montreal organization that specializes in edible landscaping and organic vegetable gardens installed the garden and conducted a workshop for children of the daycare; the children learned that vegetables need sunlight, water, and healthy soil to grow, that many bugs are good for the garden, and that roots go down into the ground while leaves grow up towards the sun; with the assistance of the Urban Seedlings staff some of the children planted proudly planted the seedlings. The daycare, an essential partner in the project, is watering and maintaining the garden on weekdays, enabling the children to be involved in the growing process.

Members of the parish care for the garden on weekends. The daycare staff look forward to loading fresh produces into their wagons, so the children can deliver the produce to DCA. Urban Seedling will be back for a summer planting and will return a third time in the fall for the final planting of the season.

Rev. Elizabeth Welch,
Rector at St. Mark, Dorval

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