Quebec City residents fight to save 50-year-old community garden

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Denis Gilbert began gardening on the vacant inexperienced house in entrance of his Quebec City residence 50 years in the past. 

“I’ve grown probably the most stunning tomatoes of my life right here,” he mentioned.

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than neighbours began to be part of him, making a community garden that lasted 5 many years.

“The most stunning recollection I’ve right here is the community that we managed to type with the garden,” Gilbert mentioned.

These days, greater than 20 residents are cultivating the land that has grow to be referred to as the Jardin du Chemin du Foulon.

But now these 5 many years are coming to a halt as a current soil examine discovered the land to be contaminated and unsafe, prompting town to shutdown the unauthorized community garden.

City says soil is unsafe

“According to the Ministry of Health, the consumption of greens grown on this lot may very well be dangerous to well being if they don’t seem to be washed properly,” mentioned Quebec City spokesperson Karine Desbiens in an e mail to CBC News.

Up till this yr, town has tolerated the garden regardless that it was by no means given the official OK to function within the inexperienced house. After it was found the soil was unsafe to harvest, town gave loads of warning, Desbiens mentioned.

“Since the summer season of 2021, a number of warnings have been issued to gardeners to inform them of the upcoming dismantling of the garden,” she mentioned.

All kinds of greens have been grown within the Jardin du Chemin du Foulon for 50 years. (Sandra Hercegova/CBC)

That time to take away the garden has come, mentioned Desbiens, however gardeners produce other choices as town now has sufficient municipal garden house to accommodate almost 560 folks.

Those licensed and city-supported municipal gardens are on properties which might be rigorously chosen based mostly on standards that embrace companies and accessibility, she defined.

Residents manage petition

The land that Gilbert and his neighbours have been gardening on is definitely owned by Canadian National Railway. Mathieu Gaudreault, spokesperson for the corporate, mentioned what occurs on the land is up to town as town leases the property. He directed all questions to town.

But, contaminated or not, neighbours don’t desire to stroll away from their beloved, homegrown community garden.

Among them is Lucie Rouillard who has been gardening there for about 10 years. She began a petition that has collected greater than 200 signatures demanding the community garden be preserved.

“It was very tough information to hear not too long ago and we hope that we should discover a resolution,” mentioned Rouillard.

Jardin du Chemin du Foulon in Quebec City is closing down this week, however residents have organized a petition to preserve it open. (Sandra Hercegova/CBC)

She mentioned neighbours are additionally demanding extra data to higher perceive why town is closing the garden as a result of it hasn’t been clear.

“We perceive town, at massive, helps these gardens,” she mentioned. “It’s simply that we really feel one thing wasn’t executed accurately right here.”

Marie Lafond says she moved to the realm about 13 years in the past and the primary folks to welcome her to the neighbourhood had been the gardeners. 

She described the garden as a lovely addition to the realm, with an abundance of contemporary greens harvested yearly. Often these greens are distributed to residents, together with Lafond, who would not really garden on the land herself, she mentioned.

Now she is supporting her neighbours within the fight to preserve the garden proper the place it’s, even when town says it is closing this week.

“If there’s a drawback, I’m positive it may be mounted,” she mentioned, questioning the lack of expertise popping out of town on the difficulty.

She mentioned town’s argument that the soil is contaminated would not make sense. It’s clearly not a security difficulty as folks have been consuming greens from the garden for 50 years, she mentioned, and the exercise there has by no means conflicted with the rail line or residents.

“There’s one thing right here that is not clear,” she mentioned. “Who is behind this? That’s the query to ask.”

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