An Overview and History of Rooftop Gardening
(Environmental Studies Seminar 182-451)
On the City of Montreal, Quebec
No introduction avaialable.
Index of IRP sections
This project is aimed at studying the feasibility of using rooftops for community garden initiatives in the Peter McGill area of Montreal. The report includes an overview of community gardens, a look at Montreal's community garden programs (past and present), analysis of the feasibility of using rooftops for gardening, and a look into possible species selection for rooftop agriculture.
Salient Data & Conclusions
This introductory chapter will give the reader a general overview of community gardening and urban agriculture (permaculture) and the benefits of such practices. It will provide a brief history of community gardening efforts in North America, and will look into the issue of rooftops as a viable alternative for community gardens.
A community garden can be defined as an open space used for horticultural practices which citizens voluntarily manage. Community gardens can be great places for people to get outdoors, learn new skills, improve the appearance of their neighbourhoods and reap the benefits of their efforts.
COMMUNITY GARDENS: HISTORY
Urban farming is not a new phenomenon, in fact such practices are as old as cities themselves. Before 1900 every city contained farms and orchards within the city. Today there are only a few small such pockets left in the developing and developed world. The modern city's need for commercial buildings, living space and industry have forced food growing to the distant countryside. The city has become unable to provide for itself in terms of food and energy, consuming far more than it can produce it is placing an ever growing strain on the global environment and economy.
Urbanization has become a global phenomenon in the past fifty years. Seventy-five percent of people in industrialized countries live in towns and cities. The mass movement of people from farms and rural villages to urban centres is perhaps one of the greatest human migrations in history. William Rees estimates that by the year 2000 half of the global human population will by city dwellers.1
Urban community gardening has seen waves of popularity in both Canada and the U.S.A., often corresponding to periods of war and recession. Research shows that periods of highest and lowest activity correspond to war-time and post-war-time periods, with the latest boom in community gardening during the energy crisis of the 1970's.
This eco-environmental scare, along with increased concerns about the chemicals and pesticides used in commercial agriculture led to the development of many community gardens projects in both the United States and Canada. The efforts towards such programs were more intense in the U.S., probably as a response to the challenges of modern big-city urban decay. Faced with issues of urban disinvestment, riots, slums and poorly planned urban renewal schemes cities were left with vast amounts of wasted open space. Municipalities began to focus on small scale greening projects in these areas, and eventually a large scale national community garden program was born.2
In the United States the American Community Gardening Association was formed in 1979 and has been the main advocate for community greening since then. Canada, on the other hand, has been a little slower in promoting national involvement in community gardening programs. it's counterpart to the ACGA is the Canadian Community Gardening Network, a much smaller and more informal organization -based primarily on electronic communication- which did not hold its first meeting until 1996. Within Canada there is interest in community gardening nation-wide, but the province of Quebec is by far the leader in establishment and management of municipal programs. The city of Montreal has been especially successful in this area thanks to the tremendous support it has received both from the political and administrative arenas.3
COMMUNITY GARDENS: BENEFITS
In addition to increasing food supplies agriculture in cities can play an important role in population health, local economies and community development. The rewards of community gardening are abundant and include healthy food, fresh air, exercise and savings. There is also a sense of community and individual empowerment that comes along with nurturing gardens, watching them grow and experiencing the beauty they provide. In an article entitled Why Urban Agriculture? William Rees discusses some of the benefits of such practices, the following paragraphs will cover a few of his ideas.
Urban agriculture can contribute to global environmental sustainability . According to Rees, fossil fuel use for transportation generates about a third of global carbon dioxide emissions. A lot of international and intra-national transportation is food related. In the industrial world a typical mouthful of food travels 2000km from farm-gate to consumer.4 An increase in local food production for local consumption could potentially reduce transportation and it's associated CO2 emissions which are leading to possible climate change.
Local food production can reduce the amount of wasteful practices such as packaging, refrigeration and the use of preservatives, as the produce reaches the consumer almost immediately after it is harvested. This results in a reduction in energy use, packaging waste and unhealthy chemical additives often found in 'supermarket' produce.5
Urban farming and gardening can "contribute to the rebirth of civil society"6 as neighbours cooperate in community owned gardens at all levels of production: establishment, management and supervision. As well as providing jobs, it can also add new activities for senior citizens and other members of society that tend to get left out.
The concept of permaculture is useful in trying to establish community gardens and agriculture. It is about creating sustainable human environments and bringing food production back to the urban area. In a sense it is more about urban agriculture than small scale community gardening. Permaculture focuses on the interaction between plants, animals, buildings and infrastructures in order to promote a sustainable agricultural base and land use ethic. "The aim is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, do not exploit or pollute and are sustainable in the long run."7
The permaculture concept can be very useful for the development of urban community garden strategies. Every city has vast amounts of unused open land, from vacant lots to parkland to concrete rooftops. Urban and suburban vegetation is mostly aesthetic rather than functional, and municipal governments spend much time and energy tending to their ornamental vegetation. Public pressure and persuasion can help redirect these activities to include useful species and community involvement.8
ROOFTOP GARDENS: HISTORY
Rooftop gardens can provide a good solution to the problem of lack of ground space in the modern urban environment. The concept, however, is not a new one. Since the beginning of recorded time, dating back to the great Ancient Egyptian Civilization, there are records of such structures which provided a solution to the problem of the dramatic annual flooding of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.9
The revival of classical culture and the fashion for importing plants during the Renaissance period brought about a renewal of interest in the roof-top garden idea. It wasn't until the 19th century, however, that the idea really took hold in Europe, with Carl Rabbitz's invention of vulcanized cement in Germany. Modern 20th century developments of wide span steel and waterproofing materials paved the way for the future of rooftop gardening. In France Le Corbusier advocated the use of roof gardens. They were part his famous scheme (1923) towards a new architecture, touching on points of "beautification of the city roofscape, the gain of leisure space from congested city development, increased roof stabilization, and stabilization of the effects of temperature on roof structure", he incorporated them into many of his housing projects.10
As the years progressed, a new type of roof garden was becoming more and more common. These were associated with communal covered parking lots, such as the flats in Sussex Gardens, London 1965. In the United States the same pattern holds true with notable examples such as the Kaiser Centre in Chicago and the Constitution Plaza in Hartford, Connecticut.11
With increased urbanization, air pollution and pressures for space, the roof garden is becoming a common solution for the roofs of office buildings and parking lots, but these gardens are purely ornamental and recreational. A much smaller scale and more practical solution would be to bring small scale permaculture to residential community rooftops.
ROOFTOP GARDENS: BENEFITS
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of rooftop gardens is their location- right upstairs! Often community garden allotments are far enough away from people's homes to cause problems with regard to travel and transportation.12 Gardens on residential or community-centre rooftops would greatly alleviate this problem.
Land tenure is another important issue for most community gardens, too often they are displaced so that the city can make more "productive" use of the land. Rooftops are much less likely to face this type of competition. With greater security of tenure gardeners would be more likely to be willing to invest the needed time and energy.13
Gardening on the rooftop also has the added feature of security. Whether it be human intruders or four legged pests, the rooftop garden provides an agricultural oasis, hidden from the outside world. It is a safe and private outdoor space in the heart of a city.
There are environmental benefits as well, as rooftop gardens increase the city's biomass and help regulate air pollution. Plant life naturally increases the oxygen level in the air and helps regulate the problem of high carbon dioxide emissions common to most urban centres. Vegetation also acts as a natural filter and can help alleviate the problem of air-born particulates.14
In an article entitled Rooftop Resource, Toronto architect Monica Kuhn discusses some of the structural advantages of rooftop gardens. Layers of soil and foliage have exceptional insulating qualities and can help keep a building warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This will save the owner/tenant money, not only by cutting back on energy costs. By reducing the extreme temperature swings, the expansion and contraction experienced by the roof will be moderated and the life span of the roof membrane will be greatly increased. As well, the plant cover will shield the roof membrane from harmful ultra-violet rays and everyday wear and tear.15
Rooftop gardening can make a neighbourhood more beautiful and a building more attractive, both of which can help to increase property value. They also lead to an increased sense of community, whether it be neighbours getting to know one another and working together, or simply providing a better view for the folks next door.
Plants will thrive on rooftops as there is plenty of water and sunlight to help them to grow. Along with providing these two essential requirements for plant growth, rooftops also nourish plants with a continuous supply of carbon dioxide from the polluted city air. It is well know that plants thrive in CO2 enriched conditions so rooftop agriculture could eventually lead to a "mutually beneficial system which would not only provide ideal conditions for plant growth, but also improve the living conditions of city inhabitants."16
Rooftop gardening and permaculture as a way of life is not as far off as one would imagine, in fact "in some parts of Germany new industrial buildings must have green roofs by law; and in Swiss cities, regulations now require new construction to relocate the area of greenspace covered up by the building's footprint to the rooftop- and even existing buildings, some hundreds of years old, must convert twenty per cent of their roofspace to pasture."17
Community organizing is about getting people together to solve their local problems and it is about enhancing their sense of confidence. It is about funneling the efforts of individuals into groups and it is about political empowerment. Mostly it is about neighbours, young and old, that want to make a difference and that care what happens in their community.
What better place to start "taking back the city" than by improving its natural environment? And what better way to improve the natural environment than by implementing community garden programs? With healthy food, cleaner air, economic savings and community empowerment gardens can bring life back to the urban concrete jungle.
CHAPTER 2: MONTREAL AND URBAN GARDENING
To determine the feasibility of a rooftop or other type of community gardening project in the Peter McGill area, a look into the past is required. This chapter will explore the history of community gardening in Montreal and offer a brief look at its current municipal community gardens programme. A peek at the history of urban renewal and community involvement in Montreal, especially the Milton Park or Peter McGill area will also be included. In addition, a discussion of different groups and resources available to urban gardeners in Montreal, and alternatives to rooftop or community gardens will be offered.
The City of Montreal has a population of about one million people and its greater region has a total population of approximately 3.2 million people.18 In the past few decades, the percentage of the metropolitan population living in the central city has dropped to 32.5%,19 from numbers that were once as high as 74.8%, in 196620 In addition, Montreal, once an economic centre for Canada, has seen its economic growth weaken in the 1990s, which has left Montreal with the highest percentage of low-income citizens in Canada.21
Despite all of the above, as well as Montreal's climate of political uncertainty, Montreal has one of the most famous community gardening programs, in the world. Montreal has a "very extensive well organised municipally supported community gardens programme", with approximately 100 community gardens located in twenty-six Montreal municipalities.22 Seventy-two of these gardens receive maintenance support from the City of Montreal.23 The largest garden has 255 plots or jardinets,24 and the smallest has 25. These gardens are shared by 10 000 people. In all, including community gardens in other municipalities, over 13 000 are actively involved.25
Community gardening sprung up and flourished in Montreal as a result of two main factors. For one, Montreal's multicultural population led to a lot of informal gardening in public and private places, beginning in the post-war period. The other main contributing factor was a movement undertaken in the mid 1970s by a group of south central (Quartier Centre-Sud) residents to create a productive garden in a vacant lot ravaged by fire.26 They received City support for their efforts and soon the two strands of community gardening efforts began to come together.27
Soon afterward, the Montreal Botanical Garden stepped in to provide support, both administrative and technical, for such endeavours. In fact, the current mayor of Montreal, Mr. Pierre Bourque, an environmental engineer by trade, took the program "under his wing"28 and is largely the one responsible for what the programme is today. He guided it into a big expansion that began in the 1980s, where the number of community gardens grew to 43 by 1980, to 75 by 1985,29 and on to 72 by 1996.30
The programme was so successful that it became too big a project for the Botanical Gardens to administer. This led to the type of administration that heads the programme today, the project was transferred to the City of Montreal. It underwent a complete review31 in the process, where it acquired most of the structure, rules and regulations that it operates under today.
Since 1989,32 the public programme of community gardens in the City of Montreal has been the responsibility of the Department of Recreation and Community Development (le Service des Sports, des loisirs et du developpement social).33
The transfer made way for the establishment of clear mandates, policies, guidelines, rules and regulations for the City's community gardening programme. For one the programme mandated that only organic gardening methods can be used in the City gardens. It also created the position of horticultural animator, filled by city employees who serve to provide support and supervision for different districts with gardens and help to ensure that organic methods and composting34 are priority number one.
The membership to the City of Montreal programme is restricted to Island inhabitants, requires proof of residence and a paid membership that is in over demand. These factors have spurred other local municipalities to start up their own community gardens.
MONTREAL: COMMUNITY GARDENING
For City dwellers however, there is a problem of limited access and opportunity when it comes to the City run community gardens. Although the registration fee is less than minimal, at ten dollars a year, re-registering gardeners always have first priority. There is also a limit of one jardinet or plot per civic address, regardless of household size. Finally, although registration information is sent out with every municipal water bill, registrations are constantly over-subscribed by about 25%. In reality, the City is unable to handle the demand for community garden plots, and has no budget for the twelve new gardens its demand suggests.35
Montreal's popular City community gardens are not the only way its citizens are involved in community gardening however. Within the city, a multitude of groups exist to help people start up their own such gardens, to support the City's garden project,and more. In addition, new related workshops and projects spring up each year in Montreal. The fact that this IRP is being done as background information for Eco-Quartier Peter McGill is in itself an example of the on-going relationship Montreal has with urban community gardening.
The non-profit group Eco-Action is another such example. Their latest project is to act as a support group for groups of people or communities who want to revitalise a local alley. They are mainly involved in ecological projects and this is the second year that they are undertaking their "reamennagement de ruelles" project in the Mile-End district of Montreal.
The goals of this project are not only to beautify the city but to get communities involved in improving their own quality of life in terms of local environment. This project is similar to the one that helped create the community gardening programme in Montreal. Firstly, participants help to clean up and prepare the alley. Secondly, like the City gardens, it involves the formation of community groups and constructive interaction between community members with similar interests. Thirdly it reclaims local space, turning often useless and ugly alleys into much needed and valued green space.36
LE MOVEMENT POUR L'AGRICULTURE BIOLOGIQUE
A community group that helps to support the City community gardens project is Le Movement pour l'Agriculture Biologique. This is another example of the types of groups active in Montreal trying to encourage community gardening and/or greening urban Montreal. Le Movement pour l'Agriculture Biologique also sub-contracts one of the City's garden sites for the raising of organic foodstuffs and to conduct its own horticulture experiments.37
Montreal is always experimenting with community gardening, so it is interesting to explore a project that took place in its not so distant past. Since Eco-Quartier's interest in terms of this project is not only in community gardening (urban) but also in rooftop gardening and rooftop food production, it is only fitting to look back at a landmark rooftop gardening project in the McGill ghetto area (aka. Peter McGill/Milton Park).
A culminating report published in 1976 describes an innovative project that was carried out in downtown Montreal. The report written by the three McGill project coordinators Susan Alward, Ron Alward, and Witold Rybczynski, is entitled Rooftop Wastelands.38 This title represents the view the project's participants take of the unproductive space a downtown core includes in terms of unused rooftops and the like. They saw urban economic development as bringing certain pressures with it that limit efficient land use39 and undertook the project as an example of what can be done with typically unused urban spaces, such as rooftops.
The rooftop garden was located on the roof of the then St-Urban community centre.40 It was federally funded and supported by technical experts from McGill and the Montreal area in general but it was largely a success due to its volunteer participants from the McGill ghetto neighbourhood. While the project was about testing and comparing the efficiency of different types of rooftop agriculture, such as greenhouses, rooftop hydroponics, different types of containers, different compost and soil mixes and so on, it was also about getting the local community involved in productive use of previously unused urban space in their neighbourhood and to increase local interest in urban gardening.41
In order to encourage local participation, a Gardening Supply Store offered gardening materials to community residents at cost42 and courses on ecological cooking and rooftop vegetable gardening were also given. These courses helped to satisfy the demand for participation and the great interest in the project's ideas, that both exceeded the garden's plot (container) allotments for the neighbourhood.43
In summary, although this project is not still in operation today, it managed to increase local awareness and interest in terms of urban gardening, urban food production (fruits and vegetable gardening), and inspired and served as a model for other projects, such as one that sprung up in a San Francisco neighbourhood shortly afterward.44
OTHER LOCAL RESOURCES
There are many more resources and opportunities available to Montrealers today concerning urban gardening than in the days of the Rooftop Wastelands project. Besides getting actively involved in a group such as Eco-Action, there is enough information easily available for any person or group to start an urban gardening project on their own.
The Botanical Garden, although no longer directly involved in community gardening, can act as an excellent resource. It offers a yearly membership for forty dollars that includes a membership to its library. The membership also includes a discount on an impressive array of workshops offered by the Garden each year. "Jardiner sur un balcon", "La culture des fines herbes", and "Amenager un coin ombrage"45 are examples of the types of workshops given this spring that might appeal to the urban gardener. Such workshops can be registered for in advance or the day of, for a reasonable fee of fifteen dollars for members and twelve dollars for non-members.
The library offers a wide assortment of books in such subjects as greenhouse gardening, balcony gardening, urban agriculture, urban planning, and so on. While books can only be withdrawn from the library by those who have Botanical Garden memberships, public access to the library for book, movie or electronic information consultations is free. A photocopier is also available for general use in the library.
In addition to its library and workshops, the Montreal Botanical Garden has an information desk available for those in need of horticultural and/or agricultural advice. This service includes an assortment of books for consultation, a knowledgeable clerk to answer the publics questions, and a collection of free, City published pamphlets that are available in French and English. Examples that might interest someone keen to start greening their local urban environment are "The vegetable garden, Horticultural Leaflet Botanical Garden 1D2 1993" , "Herbs, Horticultural Leaflet Botanical Garden 1D1 1992", and "Indoor seeding, Horticultural Leaflet Botanical Garden 1C1 1992".
Apart from the City run gardening programme and the Botanical Garden services, the City offers another pair of resources for urban gardeners. Both Access Montreal and Eco-Quartier offices, found in each designated Montreal district (quartier ) can offer helpful advice and information to local residents in terms of composting and the like.
Other smaller and more specialised clubs and groups exist in and around Montreal that might be helpful for a new urban gardener. One such example is the Montreal Horticultural Society, who are constantly advertising different events and guest speakers in the Montreal Gazette.
Presently however, the most innovative and most informative source of information available in terms of gardening is one likely to be the most familiar and convenient for the urban gardener, the internet. A multitude of interesting sites can be found on the web about different topics ranging from purchasing garden supplies and even infrastructure such as greenhouses, through company catalogue web sites, to information of how to build your own planters, to accounts of community gardening projects offered by the different organisations involved in them.
ALTERNATIVES TO ROOFTOP OR OTHER COMMUNITY GARDENING
Suppose a Montrealer or other person decides that they are no longer interested in group gardening... suppose a landlord or City inspector says no to a garden project proposal... suppose someone's starting to give up on greening their urban environment after having been on a community garden waiting list for a plot for over a year... These scenarios do not have to be the end of gardening in the city or even in a community way for such people, there are alternatives.
For the person insistent on starting up some type of group garden project, many doors remain open. They could start a balcony or stairwell beautification for their building, with interested neighbours. Another possibility could be to canvas public institutions trying to find one that would be willing to donate part of their land for community gardening. An example of this is the community garden that was recently established on the front lawn of the Fraser-Hickson library in N.D.G. It is a considerable improvement over the bare lawn it once was, and boosted community spirit not only for those who participated in the project, but for all those who get to enjoy it.
Another possibility is to organise a gardening project at one's own place of work or school. Many businesses and other such institutions seen to be more and more interested both in instigating social gatherings of group projects amongst employees and in greening their indoor and outdoor surroundings. The proposed Ecological Residence to be built by 1999 at McGill's MacDonald campus is such an example. It all goes as planned, the residence will include a cooperatively run organic garden and may also include sun rooms, greenhouses, and rainwater collection facilities.46
If however, a person decides however that a large scale or group project is not for them, they still have a wide variety of methods to choose from in order to help green their urban environment; they can focus on greening their own immediate urban space, however limited it may be.
Gardening can be carried out outside on walls, in window boxes, in window greenhouses,47 in planters/containers, on trellises, and even on or under stairs. The possibilities of urban gardening do not end there... Inside, the urban dweller can have house plants, indoor vegetable gardens and trees, herb gardens and more. Even the person with real space constraints can contribute by starting projects such as miniature gardens, terrariums, and bonsai colonies.
While none of these indoor projects will improve the outdoor urban environment in terms or air quality, appearance, or use of space, they can have personal benefits. The city dweller's involvement in such indoor projects could help improve their indoor air quality and/or the indoor appearance. It might also give them an improved or renewed sense of connectnedness or attachment to nature/the outside world, something which city dwellers often feel they've lost or are in danger of losing because of the "concrete environment" they live in.
Many resources including those previously mentioned such as interest groups, libraries, the Botanical Garden, and the internet are readily available to help people get started on personal gardening projects, both indoor and outdoor. Additional resources such as nurseries and other specialty stores, gardening catalogues, gardening magazines and television shows are also available to the urban gardener. All of these make getting started easier and are examples of how gardening advice is almost always around the corner, no matter how deep in the downtown core a person lives.
The following section will offer a few tidbits of information for the different options available to the solo urban gardener, as a compliment to all the information provided by our research group concerning larger scale, group type gardening endeavours
Gardening on a balcony does not have to be as limiting as it sounds. It can really produce a pleasant type of urban oasis for those with no other access to land.
Some special considerations for balcony gardening:
Window boxes are a great way to help green the urban environment. They take up little space and can also be used be filled with plants less conventionally chosen for window boxes, such as herbs, vegetables, or fruit. People have also been getting "more plant for the box" in recent years by planting their window boxes with hanging or creeping plant varieties.
Some special considerations for window box gardening:
-make sure regularly that no annoying drips are escaping from the window box and that it is still sturdily fastened to the wall and/or window.
-remember that window boxes can be adapted and used on walls, doors and along stairs or balconies.
-keep in mind that both window boxes and their sister containers, hanging baskets, dry up to three times faster than planted containers at ground level,52 this means that they need a lot of watering, something which is not compatible with everyone's schedule.
Container gardening, or gardening in pots or planters is the most flexible type of gardening that a city gardener with limited space for gardening, can choose. This allows them to use little space, make their plants portable (if they so desire), and it can also help to draw attention away from any unattractive feature53 their house or apartment may have.
While there are a lot of container specific information and problems that need to be taken in by container gardeners (for example, why not to plant mint in a mixed container), the book Farming in a Flowerpot , by Alice Skelsey, offers an excellent summary of what needs to be known about them...
The seven steps to farming in a flowerpot:
Many plants including different types of plants and vegetables can successfully grown in containers indoors. There are however other more exciting choices for the indoor gardener than just simply having potted plants scattered throughout the apartment. Outdoor arrangements such as window greenhouses and other similar gardening shelving units aside, the indoor gardener can also use hydroponics, cultivate herb pots, have hanging plants, create terrariums and miniature gardens, and more.
The resources and ideas available for indoor gardening are also readily available to most urban gardeners, even though they may not be as prominent subjects as outdoor gardening topics. The Montreal Botanical Garden for example, does print pamphlets for the public on topics such as indoor seeding, house plant maintenance and terrariums as well.
There are however some common sense considerations for indoor gardeners to keep in mind. Firstly, the indoor climate is not only very different than the outdoor one, but is also a heterogeneous climate. It must be kept in mind that for example, rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms are best suited for plants that need a warm and humid environment,62 but that can also tolerate a conditions changing throughout the day. In addition, indoor gardeners must take certain precautions when greening their indoor environment. For one, they should always use sterilized soil. This involves either buying and using prepackaged sterilized soil or sterilizing outdoor soil themselves by baking it in the oven for a prescribed amount of time at the recommended temperature.63 Another special consideration for indoor gardens is careful choice of species, pesticides, fertilizer, etc. in view of the pets, babies, and other occupants that could come into contact with indoor plants and explore them, or even consume them.
The preceding section had shown that many urban gardening options are available to individuals. Why then would busy individuals in the Peter McGill area by interested in community gardening and/or rooftop gardening- how feasible is it that is Eco-Quartier were too propose such programmes, that enrolment and participation would be high?
There are many factors to consider when attempting to answer this question. Firstly, the previous chapter discussed the appeal and benefits of rooftop gardens, community gardens, and permaculture in general. Secondly, as mentioned in the first part of this chapter, it is clear that community gardening interests urban Montrealers. The City run programme is very popular, always has a waiting list, and has created equally successful spin-off projects.
Thirdly, there are many groups, institutions, and other resources that could act as support for such a programme, over and above what Eco-Quartier could offer participants directly. This increases the likelihood of success in the sense that it would help to alleviate some of the financial and administrative burdens that the programme would incur.
Fourth, the Peter McGill area or Milton Park area, has already seen a rooftop garden project receive impressive community support and participation, including spin-off forms of participation such as resident run and attended organic cooking classes.
Fifth, the Milton Park area is also a good candidate for community projects because it has a history of community involvement. The Milton Park Citizen's Movement, which formed to oppose the further razing of heritage housing in the area and protest the construction of La Cite in the early seventies, is an example of the type of community spirit that the area has seen in the past. While La Cite was eventually constructed, it could not be built to the size originally intended, and the residents' actions resulted in the adoption of a new zoning by-law for the area that prevented the construction of any more high-rises in the Milton Park of Peter McGill area.64 This is not the only form of community involvement the area has seen however, its residents have also created and run cooperative housing projects and participated in a federally funded community beautification programme.65
Sixth, about one third or more of the area's residents are under the age of thirty-five66 and many of these are university students. These residents might be interested in participating in such a project as a way of meeting people in their neighbourhood and/or they would be likely to have a lot of energy and group related experience to add to the project.
Seventh, since there was once federal funding and support for beautification of the area, and since the Vision Montreal party are very pro-gardening, the programme has a good chance of receiving media attention, and maybe even some form of financial support.
In summary, in terms of both the recent history of the Milton park area, and the community gardening history of Montreal, the type of gardening project being looked into for the Peter McGill area by the local Eco-Quartier branch, seems to be a very good idea, likely to receive a warm welcome and participation rate.
The possible obstacles the programme might face in terms of legalities and logistics, along with suggestions or "how to" components for the proposed project, will be discussed in the following chapters, with a special focus on rooftop gardens.
For Chapter 1:
Alward, Alward & Rybczynski: 1976, Rooftop Wastelands, Montreal: McGill University
Jellicoe, Goode & Lancaster: 1986, The Oxford Companion to Gardens, U.S.A.: Oxford University Press
Mollison, Bill: 1991, Introduction to Permaculture, Australia: Tagari Publications
Rubin & Rubin: 1986, Community Organizing and Development, U.S.A.: Merril Publishing
For Chapter 2:
Alward, Susan and Ron, and Witold Rybczynski. Rooftop Wastelands. Montreal: McGill University, 1976.
Bird, Richard. Fifty Recipes for Colourful Containers. London: Ward Lock, 1996.
Novak, Susan. Milton Park, Montreal, commitment and innovation, FORCES Economic, social and cultural quarterly. Shaping the urban environment for better living. Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver. Marcel Couture (ed), Quebec, Numero 74, ete 1986.
Orcutt, Georgia. Successful Planters. Farmington, Michigan: Structures Publishing Co., 1977.
Porlie Des ruelles de reve... C'st possible!, Place Publique, Montreal, end of March issue, 1998.
Puma, Joan. Complete Urban Gardener. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
Skelsey, Alice. Farming in a Flowerpot. New York: Workman Publishing Company, 1975.
Ville de Montreal, Horticultural Leaflets 1A31986: Terrariums, 1C71992: Indoor Seeding, 1D11992: Herbs, and 1D2 1993: The vegetable garden.(all from the Montreal Botanical Garden).
Ville de Montreal, Les ateliers horticoles (pamphlet). Montreal, 1998. 10)Ville de Montreal, Service des loisirs, des parcs et du developpement communautaire. Le Programme des Jardins Communautaires de la Ville de Montreal. Module des loisirs. Version de sept 1996 et version revisee de juin 1995.
© 1999 Zoe Meletis, Beverley Webster.