Green Trespassers: One Step Closer to Community Garden

Last week via Facebook, I heard some news from Torsten Hermann, the St. Henri guerrilla gardener. The City of Montreal had delivered the promised topsoil, and the CBC had been around to interview him about his gardening project.

A few days later, Torsten was informed by several neighbours that they had heard his name and community garden mentioned on the radio. This additional publicity has made Torsten a local celebrity in St. Henri, particularly on Delinelle Street.

(Are there any guerrilla gardeners in your neighbourhood? Please tell us about them.)

"Everyone on the street now has high hopes that the City will officially make this a community garden," said Torsten.

As some readers may recall, the owner of this land remains a mystery. In true guerrilla gardening fashion, Torsten Hermann and Fraser Wilkinson cleared this rubble-strewn St. Henri lot in the spring of 2008, with what some considered "lofty" hopes of starting a community garden.

The many initial detractors on Delinelle Street and the surrounding area have since changed their minds and are now showing their full support--the project is thriving, as I saw for myself this weekend.

The Delinelle Community Garden and Park, as Emily Wilkinson's hand-painted reads, has expanded in size to accommodate eight neighbourhood gardeners who are now working side by side. Torsten showed me each of the different gardener's plots and told me a little bit about each person and how they came to be members.

Emily had taken over for her father, Fraser, in mid-season last year. This summer both were gardening together, as were Jessica, Matt, Miriam, Nicole, Lauren and Torsten, all residents in and around Delinelle Street.

Torsten told me that the experience has been extremely positive. In addition to receiving more plants from the borough flower give-away, the community garden has received much more.

"A few weeks ago, one of the neighbours, a landscaper, dropped off that bush," he said, pointing to the newest addition. "Another neighbour also came out one night to offer us a case of beer. But the nicest part," he added, "is when the odd person stops by to tell us how great our project is."

I noticed a complete walkway with patio stones this time, and Torsten explained that they were donated by Mr. Doré, a local landlord. With the remaining patio stones, the gardeners planned to put a patio in the back corner under an elm tree, where neighbours could bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the shade on a hot summer's day.

The compost was being moved closer to the gardening plots, and Torsten showed me how they were planning to expand the garden if more green thumbs wanted to join next year. Another addition was a raspberry, strawberry and rhubarb patch.

Mmmm... I can taste the pie already.

There are also some plans for a street party at the end of the summer around harvest time, which I am looking forward to.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the gardening membership expand from 2 last year to 8 this year. What is more, the area looks well cared for.

Liz Christy would have been proud of Torsten and his gang of guerrilla gardeners.

Related articles:
Liz Christy Seed Bombs and Some Not So Covert Bombing
More on Guerrilla-ing in NYC and St. Henri
Attention Guerrilla Gardeners: the Liz Christy Seed Bomb (a how-to)
Trespassers in St. Henri Win City Gardening Contest
What Exactly is Guerrilla Gardening?
Guerrilla Gardening: Tips for the Novice


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