Planted trees at Pointe-Claire’s Solidarity Orchard honours those who died of COVID-19

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WATCH: Trees planted in Pointe-Claire's Solidarity Orchard have taken root. As Global's Brayden Jagger reports, the garden honours the lives of residents who died of COVID-19 over the last year. – Sep 23, 2021

Pointe-Claire’s Solidarity Orchard has taken root, honouring residents who lost their lives to COVID-19 over the last year.

As of Thursday, 58 trees have been planted in the green space in the shadow of the Pointe-Claire aquatic centre.

By next spring the city plans to have a total of 80 trees in place, each one representing the life of a resident who died from the virus.

Within the next two to three years, Mayor John Belvedere says the saplings will grow and produce apples, pears and plums.

Read more: Pointe-Claire’s Sunnyside Park to get a new rain garden

Longtime resident and experienced gardener Susan Weaver was the one who planted the seed of an idea, prompting the city to plant trees in memory of the victims last year.

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Walking through the rows of freshly planted trees Thursday, Weaver humbly says she is proud of what her small idea has blossomed into.

“I’m proud to be part of this and I’m proud Pointe-Claire moved ahead with this initiative because it’s great for community building. In this time of change that’s what we have to do to build our community and make it inclusive,” Weaver said.

Read more: Montrealers celebrate National Tree Day with tree-planting activity on Mount Royal

Belvedere says nearly at the same time, the city was fielding requests from the West Island Mission concerning starting a community garden project in Pointe-Claire.

The council decided to merge the projects together and have the orchard flanked by the solidarity garden project.

Suzanne Scarrow, the executive director of the West Island Mission, says the fresh produce provided by the orchard and the gardens will be a major help for local food banks.

“We will get a bountiful harvest from those trees later in the season. We can then transform them into apple sauce and give them out as the fruit,” Scarrow said.

In its second year of operation, the Solidarity Community Garden project, which aims to help families facing food insecurity, has doubled in size to more than 5,000 square feet.

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The vegetables and fruit collected are distributed to food banks serving more than 1,000 families each week, Scarrrow said

Participating community organizations include West Island Mission, On Rock Community Services, West Island Assistance Fund, Corbeille de pain, Marché Solidaire A-Ma-Baie and L’Équipe Entreprise.

“It’s as easy to donate fresh fruits and vegetables as it is for a can of juice,” Scarrow said. “During the non-growing season, we have a hard time navigating and providing fresh produce to our members.”

Read more: West Island Solidarity Garden organizers hope to have another bountiful season

Belvedere says by next spring, the city will be adding the finishing touches to the orchard, which will include an overhanging archway, benches and a plaque in honour of the lives lost.

“It’s going to be a real area to come and enjoy, relax and reminisce about what we all went through over the last year,” Belvedere said.

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