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'Solidarity garden' in Pierrefonds-Roxboro helps feed families in need

A "solidarity garden" in Pierrefonds-Roxboro is growing vegetables on public land to share with neighbours in need. The borough inaugurated a newly redesigned garden earlier this week at Gouin Park that will help fill a local food bank.

"This is the initial step in creating food security in our community," Mayor Jim Beis told CTV News.

The vegetables there -- from peppers to eggplants to squash -- will go to the West Island Mission food bank on Labrosse Avenue, which serves 350 families in the area.

"Our database has also changed in that we're now serving a vulnerable senior community, and that is alarming," said Mission executive director Suzanne Scarrow. "Their fixed pension is no longer taking them far enough."

According to Scarrow, Mission's staff and volunteers work 6,000 square feet of urban gardens across the West Island. That adds up to hundreds of kilograms of fresh vegetables.

"This is a way to give people access to good quality, organic produce when otherwise they wouldn't have access to it. It's a labour of love -- we spend a lot of time, money and energy producing this stuff, but we really believe it's a superior product. People come to West Island Mission for food assistance, but really they feel like they've come to a market."

Looking around the food bank, some shelves are bare. With donations down and hundreds of families depending on support, inventory is low.

Mayor Beis says his borough also has a pay-what-you-can market, helping residents make ends meet.

"I mean, it's difficult going and doing groceries at the best of times, let alone those who are vulnerable," he said. "So when you look at the money that's invested here, as a $200,000 one-time expense, I mean really it's a garden that's going to keep producing." Top Stories

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