In Mercier-Ouest, residents of the HLM La Pépinière are sowing and growing a solid network of mutual aid thanks to “Vert l’Harmonie,” an urban agriculture initiative that aims to not only provide food security but also beautify the HLM with a large garden.
The project dates back to 2013, when the HLM’s dilapidated asphalt parking lot was a dumping ground for bulky items, garbage, and broken glass but where children played anyway. A solution had to be found!
Projet Harmonie, a community agency already established at the HLM, invited residents to come up with new uses for the parking lot. Over the years, they have transformed it into a wonderful green horticultural space. Today, it boasts a three-season greenhouse, dozens of garden planters, a butterfly house, and an edible trail that children can follow on their way to school.
The environmental and social benefits are undeniable. The lot has been transformed into a nourishing and educational space that also provides a place of socialization for residents, some of whom are vulnerable. It has also been an excellent way to create connections between the HLM and the neighbourhood.
Last year, 89 activities were carried out in the space. Residents took part in these activities an estimated 250 times, and 53 different people have been helped along with all the people who can now appreciate the beauty of the space as they stroll through the neighbourhood. In addition to the garden, families have helped plant 528 flower plants to embellish their HLM.
Greening — Environment — Commitment —
Education — Socialization — Food security
An extra boost
In addition to the Vert l’Harmonie program, residents at La Pépinière can turn to the community fridge to eat better. Food items and processed products are given out free of charge by another food security agency in the neighbourhood, the Groupe d’Entraide de Mercier-Ouest (GEMO), which is also supported by Centraide
A collective project whose impacts have spilled over into the community
Supported by the Collective Impact Project (CIP), the Cooking Together in Mercier-Ouest initiative also benefits the residents of the HLM La Pépinière. Snacks are provided for the children at the HLM who are registered with the academic support program. This initiative is also responsible for the ready-made meals offered through the community fridge
Towards a comprehensive food system
The Mercier-Ouest neighbourhood is currently working to implement a local food system and is receiving support from the Collective Impact Project in this process.