Vegetable gardens have been established on the future site of the science complex of The University of Montreal, located in the former Outrement Sorting Yard. While awaiting the start of the construction work on the easternmost part of the site, the locale is serving as a veritable urban agriculture laboratory for five organizations.
Now that the soil decontamination work is complete, the university has transported soil to the site. The space reserved for urban agriculture is as big as a football field. But it only represents 3 percent of the entire construction site.
"Normally, the people who come here are not sure they want to eat the vegetables, but all of the soil has been decontaminated, and we have brought quality-certified earth. What cost us was having earth brought here. For the rest, the organizations took charge of the plants and the semination," explains Alexandre Beaudoin, Biodiversity Consultant at the University of Montreal.
"It's rather unique to cultivate on a construction site. For sure, there are challenges: access to water or vehicles. But on construction sites, there are often underutilized terrains that are decontaminated where we could produce food in the city. Our objective is to prove that with a small budget we are capable of cultivating in the city. We are always learning, and we want the people of the neighborhood to come here and learn with us," affirms Maryse Poisson, of the Bioma Cooperative.
The University of Montreal disbursed nearly $10,000 for this urban agriculture project, but it will earn back a part of its investment through the sales of Miel-Montreal. The academic institution also believes that the ties made with the neighboring residents through these organizations will allow for presenting the positive aspects of the construction site, which could extend beyond 2022.
Volunteers perform Wednesday's harvesting. Except for the distribution of vegetables to community organizations, the Bioma Cooperative sells lettuces to restaurant owners and citizens who stop by to visit.
A nursery houses trees that will serve to increase the vegetation cover of Montreal over the next few years. Another organization researches the properties of the "silk" produced by milkweed.
The temporary projects are aptly named. The agreement concluded for one year could be repeated according to the evolution of the construction site.
The construction work should begin in 2016 in order to welcome the first students in fall of 2019. A pedestrian bridge is planned to allow pedestrians to cross the campus between the Outrement and Acadie metro stations. The City of Montreal will also do some work to open roads to connect the site.
The temporary projects will occupy 3 percent of the site of the new University of Montreal campus, which is 4,000 square meters, nearly the equivalent of a football field.
The Temporary Projects At a Glance
1. Biodiversity - Miel Montreal
- Installation and management of two beehives
- Educational activities in the beekeepers' area
2. Milkweed Project - Heritage Montreal
- Pilot project in collaboration with Lawrence Heritage, UdeM and the Montreal Insectarium
- Research and development component on its textile fiber
3. Soverdi - Tree Nursery
- A social economy project through a sustainable development approach
- Academic component addressing elementary and high school youth
- Project in collaboration with the Friends of Mountains
- Organic community gardens
- Promotion of community food security
- Embellishment of the unused locale and the creation of accessible green spaces
- 40 gardeners signed up in 2015
5. COOP Bioma
- Production of varied sprouts
- Production of vegetables, small local fruits
- Comestible mushroom production in crates
Does you city have urban or community gardens? Is this something that could be applicable in your community? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French on Ici Radio-Canada, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.