The Park ‘N Lot (PNL) project transformed an old asphalt parking lot at Royal West Academy high school into a wonderful green space and collective garden. I volunteered as a project coordinator and worked with the students to design and and construct the garden over three years. I then worked as facilitator in the garden for Action communiterre, animating the collective gardening sessions during the summers of 2012 and 2013. The project was a great success thanks to all of the awesome people involved including teachers Xavier Désilets and Lynn Bourdeau, principal Tony Pita, project coordinators Adrian Del Balso, Emilie Langlois, the team at Action communiterre and of course all of the awesome environmental committee students.
In the first phase, PNL 1.0, we built planters from old school desks, which were in the school’s basement. We also planted an orchard. The project was a success so we decided to continue. We began the second phase of the project, PNL 2.0, the following year. This time, we ripped up the asphalt to create an in-ground garden. Although the soil turned out to be unsuitable for growing food, we still removed the asphalt as planned so that it would be a fully green space, supporting a living ecosystem. We then constructed larger more permanent cedar planters to grow the vegetables in.
The garden provides fresh organic produce for members of the community in NDG and Montreal West. The students also cook and serve the produce to the student body through their Green Bean Cafe initiative. The students involved in the project over the years have learnt many valuable skills including: using tools and woodworking, organic gardening and ecology, teamwork, project management, and entrepreneurship.