Sowing Seeds for 2021

by Catherine Stratford  (December 2020)

Through the late fall, the gardens close down, old plants are torn out to make room for new projects, dead leaves are used to protect tender shoots, tools are cleaned and put away for the next season. It is time to take stock of how the garden grew, to acknowledge one’s successes and to ponder how to improve the garden in the next growing season.

In these trying times of the pandemic, food-security has become much more of a concern. Our communities must learn to reach out to help those having lost employment due to Covid 19.

Lucy Savage, a local dietician, initiated the Grow-an-Extra-Row project in Hemmingford, this summer, on her Facebook page. This project encouraged gardeners in Hemmingford to grow extra food and donate garden surplus to those in need. In Lucy’s own words, “The current Covid situation doesn’t lead solely to a problem of food security, though that is a major concern, but also the subtler points of general access to food, and quality food, particularly nutritionally dense fresh produce. I have seniors, and others, in mind who might not have a balanced diet, or a nutritionally adequate diet. My aim would be to reach those who not only have a financial issue leading to food insecurity (those who we think of as being in need), but also those who would benefit nutritionally from fresh produce and diversity.”

Ms. Savage said that the project turned into more of a neighbourly vegetable exchange this year, but she hopes to develop the project further next year. Please contact Lucy Savage if you are interested in helping out: Facebook: /Lucy-Savage-Dietitian-Nutritionniste-PhD-PDt.

This year, the organization of our Community Garden was handed over from the CLD to the Village of Hemmingford. You must have noticed the extraordinary hanging geraniums on the pergola as you drove by on Rte. 202. Although Covid 19 encouraged a lot of extra home gardens this year, there were only 6 people using assigned boxes in the Community Garden, this summer. They all followed the sanitary guidelines given by the government.

Thanks to Clément Beaulieu for the watering the plants, garden maintenance and the great fall clean-up job he did in the garden. Thanks also to Danny English (From the Tree to You/ De l’arbre à vous) for the wood he donated to fix the garden boxes. Thanks also to Come Giroux for his work repairing the boxes. The Community Garden is thinking of joining the Grow-an-Extra-Row project next year. The success of this project depends directly on volunteers offering their time and gardening know-how.

La Fermette, an organic vegetable farm on Covey Hill donated extra white turnips and fresh lettuce to “Au coin de chez nous”. This community kitchen in St Chrysostome, cooks up Hemmingford’s Meals on Wheels and makes 225 meals a week for the region. These are nice local initiatives. Producers are also happy not to see their vegetable surpluses go to waste. It is a win-win opportunity!

It was also an appreciated novelty to find fresh produce from La Ferme des Quatre Temps at our Tradition grocery store this summer. Our grocery store makes lots of efforts to supply us with local produce and products.

The Jardins de Naperiville CLD once again offered Hemmingford a van delivery service of local produce and locally transformed products, every Friday afternoon. La Caravane des Cultures had a very successful season in 2020 selling for more than $100 000, of fresh local produce in our MRC! They were also able to hire two employees. This year, another change was that, due to Covid 19, people ordered ahead online, and went to pick up their prepared orders at the Caravane on Friday afternoons. This helped limit social contacts following government sanitary guidelines and made the program more efficient.

This system was also used at La Fermette on Covey Hill Road. Customers ordered from a wide variety of tasty vegetables online and went to pick up their orders on Friday afternoons. This new practice cut on pick-up time and allowed for less waste, the vegetables picked having already been paid for.

We were also lucky to have had a plentiful apple and pear crop this year. The apple orchards had good business despite road closures.

So, all in all, despite the pandemic, our citizens were lucky to be able to profit from delicious fresh locally produced foods. Next year, we hope to see more outreach projects to come in aid to those in need.