'It will make a big difference': Pointe-Claire, Que. plants memorial garden to honour COVID-19 victims
MONTREAL -- In Pointe-Claire, Que., people are planting a tree for every victim of COVID-19.
A "Memorial Orchard" is in the works and the fruit will go to food banks. It started as a small idea, but has grown into a generous plan.
Susan Weaver is a local potter with a love of gardens — vegetable gardens that feed families. Weaver donates most of the bounty she grows in her Pointe-Claire backyard. Months ago, Susan asked her city to do some planting too, this time with trees.
"A lot of people died of COVID," she said. "People in our community. I knew of two people and I asked a council meeting if they could plant trees in memory of the victims of COVID-19."
The City of Pointe-Claire agreed and even grew the idea. They quickly announced that a Memorial Orchard facing the Bob Birnie arena was being planted with extra vegetable gardens, too.
"There were approximately 80 people that passed away from COVID and everybody is growing vegetables for food banks," said Mayor John Belvedere. "So, why don't we plant fruit trees and create an orchard and put them all together?"
He calls it a solidarity orchard.
"We'll plant 80 fruit trees — apples, plums and pears — and we'll donate that food to the West Island Mission, which will feed other food banks and citizens of Pointe-Claire," he said.
Trees to be planted in September will take time to bear fruit, but the gardens are already growing well.
Suzanne Scarrow of The West Island Mission said they are grateful for this upcoming harvest.
"In the West Island, there is a vulnerable population that is suffering from food insecurity so we serve a database of 250 active families," said Scarrow. "Our families come to West Island mission to shop. They come through and do their own shopping and choose what they like, want, and need for their family as opposed to just being delivered a box."
The solidarity garden isn’t the first in the area.
The mission relies on many volunteers and gardeners who help get fresh produce into the food banks.
"The fruit trees will just supplement that and the stuff in the raised beds, they've planted squash, eggplant and zucchinis," said Scarrow. "It will make a big difference."