Solidarity Gardens: West Island community groups ask people to help feed families in need

Click to play video: 'West Island community groups join forces to plant local community garden'
West Island community groups join forces to plant local community garden
WATCH: The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on families across Montreal. In the West Island, community groups are being solicited more than ever by families trying to get by. In an effort to help, about a dozen community organizations have pooled their resources to plant a garden, that will produce fresh produce for food baskets. Global’s Felicia Parrilo reports – May 27, 2020

The plot of land at Parc Gouin in Roxboro doesn’t look like much right now, but soon it’ll be a garden full of produce that will help feed families in need.

“We thought why don’t we create a community garden here, a solidarity garden, where they can grow their produce and distribute to the three food banks that we have in the community,” said Jim Beis, Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough mayor.

The garden at Parc Gouin is just one part of an initiative spearheaded by West Island Community Shares and about a dozen other community groups, including the West Island Mission and Corbeille de pain. They’re calling it the Solidarity Gardens.

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The goal is to grow fruits and vegetables and donate them to local food banks, like On Rock Community Services, the West Island Assistance Fund and the West Island Mission.

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Not only will community gardens like this one help, but organizers also want West Islanders to pitch in.

“We’re asking West Islanders to grow a row and give a row back of their produces to three local food banks,” said Sophie McCann, West Island Community Shares executive director.

McCann says local food banks have been seeing a 20 to 50 per cent increase in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. They want to make sure they can provide food baskets to all of its families, especially ones that will include fresh produce.

“Our goal is to feed close to 750 families,” said West Island Mission executive director Suzanne Scarrow.

To help encourage West Islanders to start their own garden and be part of the project, the groups will be handing out seeds for free on Saturday, May 30 at the Pointe-Claire YMCA from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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“West Islanders are building masks, they are looking for ways that they can help,” said McCann. “Asking them to grow a vegetable garden, it’s such a healthy, clean and physically distancing project that they can actually have a direct impact on local families that are struggling right now.”

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