Forty years ago, when few people had even heard of organic gardening, Yves Gagnon decided to make it his mission. Today this true green gardening pioneer is receiving the recognition he deserves, as he will be presented with the Henry Teuscher Award as part of the 20th Great Gardening Weekend at the Montréal Botanical Garden.
Among his most noteworthy accomplishments, of course, are Les jardins du Grand-Portage, in Saint-Didace, where Yves and his wife, Diane Mackay, offered country-style meals for many years. In this two-acre space, he created an organic vegetable garden and designed English- and Oriental-style gardens where he grows medicinal and ornamental plants as well as vegetables and herbs. Many interns have joined him there over the years to further their training and draw inspiration from this great visionary’s experience.
After meeting Brother Armand Savignac in the 1980s, Yves began producing seeds as well. His daughter Catherine, who launched her own company called Semences du Portage, now handles the marketing aspect, offering open-pollinated organic heritage seeds grown by her parents in Saint-Didace and by other Quebec producers.
From the outset, Yves’ books on horticulture became key reference works on organic gardening in Quebec. They are regularly updated and republished, and have continued to influence new generations of gardeners. He has also made it his mission to educate others about health and food self-sufficiency, and has appeared on many television and radio programs as a columnist or guest expert. In fact, the interest among today’s youth in ecology and healthy eating is due in part to pioneers like Yves Gagnon and their devotion and enthusiasm in communicating their values, even at a time when they were not so popular.
The Henry Teuscher Award, yesterday and today
Henry Teuscher, a visionary and passionate horticulturist, botanist and landscape architect (1891–1984), designed the Montréal Botanical Garden. He worked closely with Brother Marie-Victorin, and was responsible for designing several of the exhibition greenhouses and putting together some of the Garden’s main plant collections. Since it was created in 1999, the Henry Teuscher Award has been presented to: Bertrand Dumont (2016), Claude Vallée (2015), Albert Mondor (2014), Isabelle Dupras (2013), Francis H. Cabot (2012, posthumously), Hélène Leclerc (2011), Jacques André Rioux (2010), Elsie Reford and Alexander Reford (2009), Jean-Claude Vigor (2008), Émile Jacqmain (2007), Fred Oehmichen (2006), Daniel A. Séguin (2005), Gaëtan Hamel (2004), Milan B. Havlin (2003), Henri and Camille Perron (2002), Wilfrid Meloche (2001), Roger Van den Hende (2000) and Tony Huber (1999).
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