Collective gardens and community gardens: two different concepts that should not be confused
Collective gardening is distinguished from community gardening by the fact that it is practised by groups of people who grow a vegetable garden together instead of each person tending their own individual plot.
Collective gardens involve the pooling of many small garden plots, with all participants assuming joint responsibility. Planting, tending and harvesting tasks are shared among the members of the group. In collective gardens, the rich harvest includes not only vegetables, but also social assets such as self-reliance, mutual-support and respect.
Community gardens, on the other hand, are administered by the Ville de Montréal and offer plots of earth to individuals who grow and reap their own harvest.
The first collective gardens were established by community agencies working in the field of food security. The idea was to go beyond donating food by giving people in their local community the capacity to feed themselves. Since 1997, some 20 collective garden networks have developed in Greater Montreal, and several of these were initiated by Centraide-supported agencies.
A collective garden is a gathering place for the residents of its local neighbourhood. Participants meet there to garden, to obtain information about food production and consumption, and to share—not only their gardening skills and experiences, but also their life experiences. In collective gardens, people not only grow fruits and vegetables, they also lay down the roots of a solid mutual-support network.
In collective gardens, participants get together on a regular basis to do the work that needs to be done. A garden supervisor provides them with technical support and oversight. Collective gardens also offer workshops on biological gardening, pot gardening, seed conservation, nutrition, fruit and vegetable processing, food conservation and so on. Most of the gardens offer activities for children as well.
The collective gardens work in collaboration with the community agencies in their respective neighbourhood: the food banks, collective kitchens, family agencies, neighbourhood community centres, etc. They are also the doorway to a vast mutual-support network: once participants register, they are directed according to their needs to other services, such as homework assistance, support for immigrant families, etc.
The collective gardens are accessible to everyone because they aim to promote social mix. The network of collective gardens managed by Centraide-supported agencies reaches xxx people.
Centraide-supported agencies: forerunners of the first collective gardens
In 1997, several community workers in Notre-Dame-De-Grace got together to address issues of poverty, food security and the environment. Based on innovative and dynamic collaborative partnerships, the Victory Garden Network took root in NDG with the creation of the first collective gardens on Montreal Island. This initiative was supported by the agency Action Communiterre. During the same period, Équiterre and La Croisée de Longueuil launched collective gardens in Longueuil. The idea soon snowballed and collective gardens began taking root throughout Montreal and Quebec City.
Beyond food donations: supporting self-reliance
Centraide also supports numerous alternative approaches to promoting the food security of people in a situation of poverty: collective kitchens, “Magasins-Partage” Holiday Season grocery stores, Good Food Box initiatives, neighbourhood micromarkets, community agency grocery stores, and various front-line services (food counters, community cafeterias, meals and snacks in the schools and day camps).
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