Often, when you buy fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store, they were actually grown far away. A new initiative east of downtown aims to totally change the relationship between Montrealers and their food.
It’s called the Emily De Witt greenhouse.
“We want to offer local produce, a product of quality, and we want to do it in partnership with the community,” explained Maxime Comeau, project manager for the greenhouse with Sentier Urbain.
On Tuesday, Comeau was tending to the beans growing in the greenhouse. There are also tomatoes, eggplants, watermelons and and much more.
While it may look like a fairly run-of-the-mill operation from the inside, what’s different about the greenhouse is that it’s right in the middle of a park east of downtown.
“It’s pretty unique,” said Comeau.
The greenhouse is right next to a baseball field at Walter Stewart Park in the Sainte-Marie district.
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Since 2017, the urban greenhouse has been run by a coalition of community groups.
“Food security was a concern over here in the neighbourhood, so we wanted to create a short circuit. The food is produced, delivered, transformed right here in the neighbourhood,” said Amelie Fraser Pelleter of Société écocitoyenne de Montréal.
Food is grown in the greenhouse and then sold at the Solidaire Frontenac Market at the Frontenac Metro station just a few blocks away.
With the small size of their operation, making money is not the goal. The urban gardeners just want to bring people closer to the food they eat and give some Montrealers a better idea of where their fruits and veggies come from.
“We want people to be a more active part of their own food,” said Fraser Pelletier.
The greenhouse gets support from Centraide and the city of Montreal.
Not only do they provide food and education, but also jobs for vulnerable members of society.
It’s a concept the urban farmers believe can sprout up all over the city.
“We believe it’s possible,” said Comeau.
They’re encouraging people to speak to their own local officials, and plant the seed in their minds to help grow the initiative.