Centre de femmes du Haut-Richelieu

April 2017

In 2015, the Centre de femmes du Haut-Richelieu brought together eight community agencies to create a collective garden. The next year, new partners joined the project, which has become a sustainable and intergenerational community garden.

The goal of the project is to build the social fabric of an underprivileged neighbourhood by harnessing the energy and resources of agencies so that the vulnerable people they serve can develop the power to act.

They reached this goal by creating a green space that also serves as a community space for an underprivileged sector in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Young and old go there to learn organic vegetable gardening so that they can grow low-cost, high-quality produce close to home.

The Centre de femmes du Haut-Richelieu has gotten people to take action in two areas. First, they convinced local agencies to encourage their clients to get involved in all phases of the project, including the design, funding, set-up, maintenance, community promotion, harvesting and processing. They also asked expert senior volunteers to run cooking workshops. Together, these youth and seniors have learned lessons throughout the project.

The size of this initiative is extremely impressive. At first, the project was run by members of the Centre de femmes du Haut-Richelieu, volunteers from the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Society in Saint-Jean, youth at the Maison des jeunes Le Dôme, and parents and children from the Mouvement SEM (Sensibilisation pour une enfance meilleure). And these aren't the only people with a hand in the project, as they also convinced the city to provide a vacant lot, and the local MNA helped the gardeners get equipment. Tenants from the HLM Gouin then took part, as did the department of agricultural technology management at the Cégep Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, various companies, L’Étoile (a centre for social pediatrics), and Justice alternative du Haut-Richelieu. The list of people involved in the project is long, and the results have been amazing.

Thanks to the garden, people have reinforced their social networks, felt that their skills are valued, and found new motivation to act and get involved.

Breaking the isolation of seniors, getting young people involved, improving food self-sufficiency and healthy lifestyles, valuing the transfer of knowledge from seniors to youth, and beautifying neighbourhoods—all while creating commitment around collective action—have all made significant contributions to this mobilization initiative. And this great work will continue in 2017!

Centraide of Greater Montreal has been supporting the Centre de femmes du Haut-Richelieu since 2011.

Centre de femmes du Haut-Richelieu is the winner of the Solidaires Mobilisation 2017.