Community gardens are glorious to me. The diversity of each member, the variety of aesthetic design choices, and the ingenuity of cramming as much as possible into one plot is inspiring. During my trip to Quebec City, we visited one such garden that keeps flooding my memory. Here’s a tour:
The garden was established in 1982, which makes it Quebec City’s oldest and largest community garden. The residents came together to create an organic garden where they could grow healthy food and build community. Like many community gardens, it is an oasis in the middle of a bustling city.
Each plot affords a member the opportunity to grow their own paradise. Flowers, vegetables and fruits are tucked in every corner. Pathways are clearly laid out and easy to meander through.
Beets, beans, squash, onions and tomatoes are mainstays of many plots. The communal area of the garden holds a compost pile, but it was difficult to identify at first sight.
The sign says their compost pile is smaller this year, so please limit yourself to 2 wheelbarrows. At least that’s what Google Translator says. The pile was loaded with nearly mature winter squash; it made us jealous. If we could have fit the butternut, acorn and delicatas pictured below into our suitcases…
The size of the garden was impressive, but nothing prepared us for what we saw just around the bend. The tour guide said, “follow me to the pound.” We quizzically tilted our heads. “The pound?” Is that something in French that just doesn’t translate? The accent was throwing us for a loop. Then it all made sense.
Who would have expected the property was large enough to hold a pond, complete with ducks, water plants and algae? We asked if they have fish and our guide said, “No, they don’t survive, only ducks.”
Behind the pond we found 3 tall bee hives. One of our guides told us that they harvested 300 pounds of honey last year and sold it to raise money for the garden. Just over the fence we could see some of the beautiful architecture of Quebec City.
Walking through the gardens, we spied beautiful clusters of picture-perfect plants. Colorful cabbages nestled in with borage, beans and kale were screaming to be photographed. It’s very different from the half-dead, aphid-ridden August gardens of Southern California.
Quebec City has a 4-month growing season, so its gardeners make the most of it. Every square inch of soil was bursting forth with abundant foliage in beautiful combinations.
From a distance, community gardens might look shabby to some, but to me they are more beautiful than the manicured gardens of Versailles. So much life, so much love in one place.