Organic gardening workshop series begins at Centre Communautaire Entre-Nous
Aylmer residents participated in the first of a series of organic gardening workshops offered at the Centre Communautaire Entre-Nous, May 11. The workshop, titled “Protecting your vegetable garden from pests”, was held in partnership with the project Du Jardin à l'Assiette and Partenaires du secteur Aylmer, and offered participants techniques for preventing and treating pest issues in gardens.
The workshop was led by Hélène Hébert, a former nuclear scientist and engineer whose passion for food security led her to found a gardening consulting business of the same name (Hélène Hébert Companie). Hébert’s workshop helped participants identify the causes of common pest problems and learn how to address each cause.
For gardens vulnerable to pests due to a lack of biodiversity, for example, Hébert recommended introducing plants that emit a strong odour. She shared that the smell of onions, garlic, shallots and fine herbs can deter certain insects from approaching plants. Conversely, sweet smelling edible flowers like calendula and marigolds serve as decoys when placed in vegetable gardens, by attracting insects away from other plants. Hébert also recommended including different plant varieties to increase a garden’s capacity to withstanding insect attacks, or to set up anti-insect nets soon after seedlings are planted.
The workshop aimed to empower individuals and communities to become more resilient. “With the challenges facing the world right now, we have got to become more resilient. The pandemic showed us how nonresilient we are,” Hébert said. Josée Poirier Defoy, the director of Regroupement des Cuisines Collectives, a local organization dedicated to promoting sustainable food systems and citizen food sovereignty in the region, added, “Our mission [in holding these workshops] is to help people become more empowered. The first step is planting and, at the end, we cook together.”
Amanda Frechette, who works with the Centre Communautaire Entre-Nous, explained that this is the third year in a row that the community centre has hosted gardening workshops and that they plan to continue doing so in the future, “We started with three patches and added three more last year. Everything grew so nicely thanks to Hélène’s support, which has made a huge difference. Right now we are planting the spring gardens. We will also do winter gardening this year and set up a greenhouse,” said Frechette.
Two more gardening workshops are scheduled to take place at the Centre Communautaire Entre-Nous on May 18 and 25 from 5 - 6. Interested individuals are encouraged to call the Centre at 819-684-2236 to register. Hélène also offers Facebook live video workshops every Tuesday in French and every Wednesday in English on her page, “Hélène Hébert compagnie” and on Instagram at helenehebert.co.
Photo: Participants in the workshop learn from organic gardening expert Hélène Hébert about maintaining healthy soil, an essential part of protecting gardens against pest infestations.
Photo: Greg Newing