You’re familiar with the Youth Gardens? Created for young citizens with the goal of encouraging contact with nature, they’re part of the overall arrangement of the Montréal Botanical Garden. Brimming with beauty and with life, this green space includes layouts of food plants and colored companion plants, shrubs and fruit trees. But more than that, it’s a gardening program for kids, and has been since 1938.
A tradition that endures
Every year, for the last 77, up to 200 young Montrealers between 8 and 15 have come to learn the rudiments of gardening by looking after their own vegetable gardens. Quite a few of them come back in order to continue the experience, and some families can boast three generations of gardeners who’ve taken part!
Urban agriculture, all the rage
The popularity of urban agriculture has strongly heightened interest in this program. The horticulturist selects the varieties, colors and shapes of vegetable that will pique children’s curiosity. While demonstrating how enjoyable gardening can be, the animators offer little health breaks, like tastings of herbal teas or fruit or vegetable smoothies that the kids prepare themselves in the bike blender. In addition to the gardening activities, the Youth Gardens team welcomes small groups of adults and shares its expertise in kitchen garden animation.
Something new for 2015: the pergola
This year a new project will see the light thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of the Botanical Garden. It’s the pergola, a new “stake roof” designed by a daring young architect, and which will serve as a permanent and durable shelter for children. In the words of its designer, “The language of the structure was inspired by the image of a landscape marked by stakes – basic supports intended for plants to climb. This new construction presents an image that evokes the fundamental principles instituted by the Botanical Garden: connection with nature, ecological awareness, use of local products.”
A precious legacy
The Youth Gardens have a long history, and the youngsters who participate in their program inherit a precious legacy. They’ll keep the taste for and love of gardening the rest of their lives, and most of them will carry on gardening into their adult years. So it’s not one thing or the other: the duality will endure. The Youth Gardens are respecting tradition, and at the same time demonstrating a refreshing modernity!