Jardin Éducatif grows despite COVID-19 pandemic

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Allyson Beauregard

LITCHFIELD – Le Jardin Éducatif du Pontiac held a virtual annual general
meeting June 16, reviewing the organization’s situation, activities, projects, etc. for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. The organization cancelled its summer camp program for the first time in thirty years because of the COVID pandemic, but will continue to sell produce to the public, supply local food banks and pursue grass cutting contracts.
The Jardin ended the 2020 fiscal year with an approximate $15,000 deficit compared to a $47,000 surplus the previous year, but according to Martin Riopel, director general, it’s simply a case of how accounts are calculated (grants received late but not included, purchases spread out over several years, etc.) and the organization remains in good financial standing.
Around $3,300 was earned through vegetable sales in 2019/2020 and about 410 pounds of produce ($795 value) was supplied to Bouffe Pontiac through the Jardins de solidarité program. The organization’s summer camp had 24 participants last year compared to 20 the two years prior.
Since September 2019, the Jardin has offered a new psychosocial and academic follow-up program in schools in order to help a greater number of students in need who wouldn’t normally be referred to their external services. As a result, 54
students were reached last year compared to 14 in 2018/2019.
The first rural FabLab in Québec was born in the Pontiac last year due to a partnership between the Jardin and La Fabrique Mobile de L’Outaouais. The service was offered to the community at large and also benefitted summer camp
participants who participated in a half-day of activities per week. Participants of the school programs used the service many times as a reward or to prepare specific projects. “This innovative initiative allowed participants in our programs and the
general population to have access to a space for exchange, creation, repair and innovation with high-tech tools and machinery such as a 3D printer, laser cutting, digital embroidery machine, etc.,” explained Riopel.
Other news for 2019 included the hiring of Jean-Claude Laroche as a gardener and the new logo unveiling. “[Redesigning the logo] was one of the first steps in a long strategic planning process that will continue over the next year if conditions permit,” said Riopel.
Elections were held at the end of the meeting and Genevieve Has, Debra Stephens, Kim Laroche and Denis Rossignol filled the four seats up for election.