At the 2021 annual meeting of the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) on May 13, the Municipalité régionale du Comté (MRC) d’Argenteuil received the Ovation Award for its community agriculture project in the community social and intercultural development category.
“The MRC d’Argenteuil is filled with a sense of great pride and gratitude about this prestigious recognition. We would like to associate this distinction with all the people who have put their enthusiasm, talent, and heart into this project: community partners, members of the community, volunteers, employees, and elected officials. In particular, we would like to thank two MRC staff members, Renée-Claude Bergeron and Jonathan Palardy, who, through their knowledge, their passion and their perseverance, have largely contributed to this collective success,” said Prefect Scott Pearce.
The award-winning project caught the attention of the jury, for its innovative and original aspects, repercussions in the community, its level of optimization and mobilization of resources, as well as its potential for transfer or adaptability. The MRC d’Argenteuil has managed to distinguish itself through the project and has attracted interest from other communities across Québec.
In 2013, the MRC d’Argenteuil acquired 245 hectares of land located in an agricultural area along Montée Robert in Brownsburg-Chatham. From a roundtable on food security, the idea emerged to develop a local community agriculture project with the aim of improving the supply of fresh foods offered by food banks and other social services organizations in the region. Since the summer of 2015, the MRC d’Argenteuil has been harvesting a variety of quality fruits and vegetables for nearly 2,000 citizens in need.
From its beginnings, and with the financial support of the governments of Québec and Canada, the MRC oversees the development of the project, infrastructure, and its social component. More than a hundred tons of food later, the project continues to evolve after leading to partnerships in the community.
The program is constantly being renewed in order to better meet needs. For example, in 2019, the MRC developed a composting area to develop an eco-responsible component and address the issue of waste reduction. In 2021, a reintegration and employability component was established with the Parcours Agroforestier Argenteuil, which is a paid work training program, at the end of which a cohort of participants aged 30 or under will receive a recognized certificate. In addition, a greenhouse was designed for the educational purposes of the program. These initiatives, officially launched in April 2020, last, are carried out under the Canada-Québec Contribution Agreement in support of young people.
The MRC d´Argenteuil was in the running for the Ovation award along with the city of Repentigny, and the Montréal borough of Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie.