A thriving urban vegetable garden at Maison Jesus-Marie

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The pandemic did not end the annual urban vegetable garden project at Maison Jesus-Marie (MJM). On the contrary, it was given an “enhanced” version with the addition of large raised wooden planters in which to grow herbs.

The planters were generously built by the grandfather of Marie-Eve, an employee of the MJM. They were installed on concrete slabs in the interior garden, a space, accessible to all and visible from the balconies.

“The Sisters enjoy walking in the garden, smelling or touching the fragrant herbs. In addition, the selection of herbs was made to accommodate the needs of the kitchen,” noted Josée Narbonne, who is responsible for community activities and services.

Variety and diversity

Sisters Léa Dulude and Lise Bernier continued their work of previous years. Léa initially planted about 40 tomato seedlings, inside, during the winter. Due to COVID-19 containment measures, she needed the help of Madame Narbonne to purchase complementary plants in order to complete the for the 2020 edition of the urban vegetable garden.

The gardeners at the Maison Jesus-Marie: Sr Lise Bernier and Sr. Léa Dulude.

Presently, the garden at Maison Jesus-Marie has more than fifty tomato plants of various sizes and colors, from the small “Pearl” tomato, no bigger than one’s little finger, to the “Beef Steak” tomato. There is something for everyone to taste! Also, we must not forget the tomato seedlings donated annually by the Dulude family.

In addition to tomatoes, there are radishes, cucumbers, peppers, small beans, snowpeas, ground cherries, etc. While the pandemic did not affect the urban vegetable garden project, nature somewhat disrupted production. Intense heat and the absence of bees used for pollination had an impact, as did the presence of some harmful insects. Nevertheless, this year’s yield has been substantial even though the squirrels seem to particularly like the peppers and tomatoes.

A stimulating and useful activity

Sr Léa Dulude in the middle of her vegetable garden where there are about fifty different tomato plants.

“We are in the middle of the harvest season. While some plants did not produce the expected yield, the radishes grew very well,” says Sr. Leah. And no matter what the yield, watching nature transform and having the pleasure of reaping what we planted, gave us a real sense of satisfaction.  In addition, everything that is harvested is given to MJM’s head chef.

“I have to admit that planting my seedlings during the winter and plants in late May and early June, had a therapeutic effect on me,” says Sr. Leah, who experienced the rigorous containment measures as did all her colleagues. Today, her satisfaction is even greater as she hears the positive comments of the Sisters who appreciate more than ever the vegetable and flower gardens that are currently at their peak.

Supporting sustainable development

This year, Sr. Lise Bernier, responsible for 14 kinds of herbs, cucumbers and flower baskets, also  asked Madame Narbonne to help with the buying of the flowers. The gardening went well and produced very good results; judging from the glowing comments of the Sisters who keep saying, “It’s so beautiful”.

In addition, Sr. Lise was given a new task of taking care of the newly-purchased composter. Previously, she and Léa were spreading plant leaves and fruit peels. Compost from the composter will be used to feed the flowerbeds and the vegetable garden.

In addition to enriching the daily lives of the Sisters of Maison Jesus-Marie, these actions are perfectly in line with sustainable development and the 5R’s project undertaken by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM).

Photo: Sr Suzanne Brault