Visitors wending their way in summertime through the Useful Plants Garden can’t help but notice the abundance of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and squashes. Cabbages, carrots, onions and numerous other vegetables fill the rows of the vegetable garden. The entire summer, the Useful Plants Garden is bursting with vegetables, herbs and fruit. But where does all this go at the end of the season?
Education and the dissemination of knowledge in botany and horticulture are at the heart of the Jardin botanique missions. The Useful Plants Garden is therefore first and foremost a demonstration garden. The species planted have been carefully chosen in order to present a great diversity of vegetable, fruit, seasoning, oil, cereal, dye and fiber plants. Some cultivars are being tested, while others are on display every year. This garden constitutes a showcase for the education of our visitors. And to that end, the vegetables and fruit are kept in the garden as long as possible, with some of them specifically intended for activities involving visitors or school groups.
Jardin botanique harvests
Nevertheless, as fruit and vegetables reach maturity, most of them are harvested. As it happens, for a number of years the Jardin botanique de Montréal has been turning fruit and vegetables over to community organizations. The horticulturist in charge of the Useful Plants Garden conducts targeted harvests with her team. So none of that food is wasted: on the contrary, a good number of people in need benefit from it. Thanks to that collaboration, the Jardin botanique not only carries out its educational mission but also takes part in the life of the neighborhood by way of economic-assistance and social-integration organizations.
Youth Gardens harvests
As for the Youth Gardens, the vegetables produced in the plots are taken home. They’re the nicest possible reward for all the youngsters from eight to fifteen who passionately throw themselves into their gardening throughout the summer, from seeding through to harvesting.
So if you’re tempted, on your next visit, to stock up from the garden, remember that harvesting by the public is strictly forbidden, and for very good reasons.