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How community gardens are bringing people together

The community gardens in Saint-François and Caraquet have stories that are similar: they are both creating community centres where social engagement and healthy living are celebrated! But how they came to exist is quite a different story.

In  Saint-François, the community garden grew out of a collaboration between the personnel and students of the École communautaire Ernest-Long and was supported by several partners, including the Société culturelle de Saint-François, the Réseau d’inclusion communautaire du Nord-Ouest, J.D. Irving and the Congrès mondial acadien. The garden, located behind town hall, started as seven beds arranged in the shape of a star and has since grown because the demand has been so enthusiastic! It has become a real source of pride for the students, who share their harvest with the community says Gaëtane Saucier-Nadeau, president of la Société culturelle de Saint-François. Fruit trees were recently planted and a gazebo has been built parallel to the garden, a place that is increasingly becoming the heart of the community.

In Caraquet, the garden was Donat Lacroix’s idea, who, with the help of his neighbour, created 27 10’x20’ garden plots for the community to use. He asked the town to help by providing access to water and helping him parcel out the plots. The town agreed and within a day and a half of the announcement being in the paper, all the plots were claimed! For Donat, the garden is a great place for interaction between residents of all ages. Young people learn gardening tips from older, more seasoned gardeners. And everyone who puts in their time harvests fresh vegetables. A passionate gardener of over 40 years, Donat wanted everyone who was interested to have a chance to garden—no matter who they were. With everyone chipping in, from the compost provided by his neighbour, a farmer, and the leftover shells donated by fishermen in the area, growth in the garden is booming!

Both gardens, and other community gardens that are popping up all around the province, are fostering a real sense of community and connecting people who otherwise may not have met. They are also teaching people of all ages how to grow their own food and enjoy their healthy harvest!

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