WATCH: A community garden in Côte St-Luc will be celebrating 40 years in the community on July 12. The garden which caters exclusively to residents aged 55 years and older, has set aside a special plot in the garden dedicated to growing food for the sole purpose of donating it. Global’s Gloria Henriquez takes us on a tour of this very special garden.
CÔTE ST-LUC – It’s an oasis in the middle of the city and it’s adding one more candle to its cake.
The Côte St-Luc Seniors Community Garden is turning 40-years-old this month.
It’s a place where residents not only harvest vegetables but also, a sense of community.
Mona Aaron has been gardening her space for over two decades.
“You can spend hours here or you pick your time. But it’s always good. This kind of good,” said Aaron while holding her heart.
It’s a multicultural garden all across and it shows in this year’s crop.
There are black tomatoes and tomatoes born from seeds one of the gardeners brought from his home country, Romania.
Every one of these plots has a story.
At 90-years-old, Benny Bokser says gardening is his exercise.
“Every time I work at the garden I have to go to a pool or a jacuzzi in order to relax my muscles,” said Bokser.
Bokser has been caring for his land at the city’s community garden for 11 years.
He moved from a home with a backyard into a condo building in Côte St-Luc.
“The squirrels were always attacking our cucumbers so I had to make a chicken wire fence all around it,” said Bokser with a smile.
“Here, it’s protected.”
The gardeners are planning a party this July 12 to celebrate the harvest and its four decades of existence.
But they had to overcome some difficulties to get to where they are now.
“It was about to close and people in the garden who had started it -war veterans- were really upset about it,” said Mandie Aaron, the garden’s president and coordinator. “Because to lose this paradise would’ve been a big shame.”
Côte St-Luc city council voted to save the garden. 15 years later, the land is flourishing.
Part of the garden’s success is due to volunteers like Mandie Aaron, she puts in an average of 50 hours a week.
Aaron also came up with a way to give back to the community.
A dedicated plot serves the MADA community centre. Its mission is to help people in need with the basic necessities of life.
“They serve two meals a day so they use our fresh produce in these meals,” said Aaron. “It’s a real source of pride”
A kind of pride that is felt across the garden.
“It gives me everything,” said Fatehma Molavi, who used the garden as a healing tool to deal with her cancer.
“If you have a garden and a library you don’t need anything else. Here in Côte St-Luc, we have both,” added Mona Aaron.
Although it’s not an exclusive club, it’s a very popular one. “There’s a lineup of 12 people for next season, clamouring to get in” said Aaron.