Planting Seeds of Change

décembre 13, 2023
Patricia Feehely

Meet community leaders Geneviève, Nawal and Marie-Pierre from Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver. Their stories are part of our winter donation campaign, featuring the incredible work being done to foster social connection and community resilience in parks and green spaces across Canada. 


During the first year of COVID, Geneviève learned that rates of food insecurity were skyrocketing in Montreal. Motivated to make a difference, Geneviève envisioned a sustainable response to address hunger in her community: a living and educational agriculture ecosystem composed of three urban gardens.

In this place, people could co-create and participate in planting and growing vegetables together. Living in an urban area of Montreal called Milton Park, she knew it wouldn’t be easy. Despite being next to Mount Royal Mountain, the neighbourhood needs more public parks and sufficient green spaces. She knew it was not a matter of improving pre-existing greenspaces to suit her community’s needs; she had to create them.

After months of knocking on doors, she successfully negotiated three areas for raised garden beds, one even for a greenhouse. She transformed these spaces into communal lots and encouraged community members to take part in the growing process — from planting seeds to weeding, harvesting herbs and vegetables to take home but also empowering people to cultivate their very own pharmacy.

Source: Geneviève Dubé and Michelle Della Corte, cofounders of  Jardins Pour Tous

As community interest grew around the gardens, Geneviève learned about post-covid deeper issues. Beyond food insecurity, residents struggled with profound challenges like isolation, stress, and depression. Geneviève recognized the need for more holistic solutions and approached Park People with an idea that could improve the well-being of her neighbours.

She wanted to create a sense of connection and trust among community members. In addition to food access, it creates a supportive environment promoting mental well-being and social connection.

With help from Park People, Geneviève created a series of workshops that wove together plant education with mental wellness and meaningful connection to the land. The first event was in Notman Urban Gardens, an overgrown, green oasis prohibiting public access. There was a meditation workshop, followed by an Indigenous-led teaching on the medicinal properties of the plants. 40 people attended the event and learned how to see the garden as a medicinal pharmacy. Together, they learned how to soak lemon balm with orange peel in water to improve mood, sleep quality and digestion. They touched, tasted and smelled herbs, sparking conversation and discovery. 

Source: Geneviève at Notman Urban Garden, Montreal

A community member recently told Geneviève that the workshop helped her feel a sense of belonging and created a sense of connection to her neighbours and the environment she hadn’t experienced before. She learned about plants and their properties, opening up new ways of knowing and seeing the world around her. The workshop inspired her to become a weekly volunteer at the garden, and now she can’t envision her life without it. In the midst of Montreal’s bustling urban landscape, Jardins Pour Tous has become more than a garden but a haven of wellness and connection that she eagerly looks forward to every week. 

As the holiday season approaches, we invite you to help brighten communities with the gift of connection. Your donation, no matter how big or small,  will help transform our cities into vibrant, healthy, and resilient hubs for social change. Your generosity will support people like Geneviève and build the cities of tomorrow.


Read other community leaders’ stories with Nawal from Toronto and Marie-Pierre from Vancouver.


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