One Tomato at a Time

April 2015

One tomato at a time is a collective community gardening project that has been operating since 2012 in the Desmarchais-Crawford neighbourhood of Verdun. Located in the borough’s south-west area, this neighbourhood is home to many disadvantaged families as well as newcomers, seniors and a large anglophone community.

The project is the result of a partnership between several agencies that came together to improve the food security of neighbourhood residents: Dawson Community Centre, SouthWest United Church and Mission, Riverview Elementary School and the Riverview Community Learning Centre. Financially supported by Centraide and the borough of Verdun, this community initiative promotes urban gardening among neighbourhood residents with a view to improving their eating habits while also encouraging empowerment, self-help and respect for the environment.

A model of citizen collaboration, the project mobilizes some 600 people, including youth, families and seniors, to grow and cook fruits and vegetables while building a new social network for themselves. Participants increase their access to quality fresh food and strengthen their community spirit.

The rich harvest of the One tomato at a time project includes the establishment of:

  • A collective garden, the Jardin de l’Espérance;
  • A vegetable garden on the grounds of Riverview School;
  • The first roof garden in the borough and a parent-child cooking program at Dawson Community Centre;
  • A program of continuing education courses and collective kitchen workshops (preparation of healthy snacks and meals for elementary school students) at SouthWest United Church and Mission;
  • Education and awareness workshops to introduce neighbourhood schoolchildren to gardening, cooking and healthy eating.

And the future looks flourishing. The initiative’s partners are working to launch additional collective gardens and to establish collaborations with other partners in the borough, including community agencies and institutions. This well-rooted project is transforming the community, one tomato plant at a time!

Centraide has supported Dawson Community Centre, which coordinates the “One Tomato at a Time” project, since 1976.

"One tomato at a time" project is the winner of the Solidaires Mobilization 2015.