Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
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(Posted 2:30 a.m., Nov. 21)
Orléans gardenkeeper receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

When it comes to gardening Gina LaPointe is what you might call a late bloomer. It wasn’t until she retired from the military in 2005 and decided to study horticulture at Algonquin College that she discovered she had green thumb.

Looking for an outlet in which to pursue her newfound passion, LaPointe joined the effort to create the Orléans Community Garden at the corner of St. Joseph Blvd. and Tenth Line Road.

Gina LaPointe receives the Mayor’s City Builder Award from his Worship, Mayor Jim Watson, and councillors Bob Monette and Stephen Blais. Photo supplied

Within two years she took over as president and began the process of turning the plot of weed-infested, rock and asphalt filled land into the garden it is today.

During those first few years she spent more than 1,000 hours working to ensure the long term viability of the garden, from getting a well installed on the site and purchasing a rototiller, to eradicting the invasive weeds that once made the garden an eyesore.

She also came up with the idea for the 58 member gardeners to donate a portion of their harvest to the Ottawa Mission. Donations this year totaled more than 4,000 lbs.

For all her efforts, LaPointe was recently presented with the Mayor’s City Builders Award by His Worship, Jim Watson and Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette, who credits the community volunteer for saving the garden when it was on the verge dying from neglect.

“Gina has been a real tour de force in the ongoing evolution of the garden,” says Monette, “When we first started this project close to 10 years ago, the area was just a vacant piece of land with overgrown weeds, buried ashphalt and a lot of rocks in it. Today, it is the best kept community garden in the city thanks in large part to Gina, her husband and her fellow board members.”

Lapointe’s husband, Marco Vallée is the grounds co-ordinator and can often be seen riding a tractor around the garden.

“It’s the only way we can spend time together,” Lapointe says only half-jokingly.

Arguably Lapointe’s proudest acheivement since taking over as president has been to get her fellow gardeners to take ownership of the garden and share in the sense of pride that she feels, especially in their efforts to supply the Ottawa Mission with fresh produce every year.

“I tell them all the time: It’s not my garden. It’s not the city’s garden. It’s your garden. So what you put into it is what you get out of it,” says LaPointe.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

   

 


Posted Jan. 12



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