2:30 a.m., Nov. 21)
Orléans gardenkeeper receives Mayors City Builder
By Fred Sherwin
it comes to gardening Gina LaPointe is what you might
call a late bloomer. It wasnt until she retired
from the military in 2005 and decided to study horticulture
at Algonquin College that she discovered she had green
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.
LaPointe receives the Mayors City Builder
Award from his Worship, Mayor Jim Watson, and councillors
Bob Monette and Stephen Blais. Photo supplied
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.
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.
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.
all her efforts, LaPointe was recently presented with
the Mayors 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.
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.
husband, Marco Vallée is the grounds co-ordinator
and can often be seen riding a tractor around the garden.
the only way we can spend time together, Lapointe
says only half-jokingly.
Lapointes 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.
tell them all the time: Its not my garden. Its
not the citys garden. Its your garden. So
what you put into it is what you get out of it,
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)