Who passes by La Visitation-de-l'Île-Dupas, in the region of Berthierville, cannot fail to see at the end of the village - and, very often, to stop there - this small plot of land transformed into a forest nurturer a few years ago.
“More and more people are coming to get blueberries and currants,” Jean Drainville, one of the citizens who sees to the proper functioning of the place, told us during our visit.
Since 2019, he and other citizens of the village have been developing and maintaining the site divided into islands covering an area of 120 feet by 120 feet (about 36.5 m by 36.5 m) where there are now more than 300 edible plants of 90 different species.
This nurturing forest, a sort of garden, a landscaped ecosystem inspired by the forest, dotted with various edible species, is not only in the hearts of the inhabitants of La Visitation-de-l'Île-Dupas, but also of cyclists from passage.
“We didn't expect to discover something like that when we came here, mentioned one of them, Denis Destrempes, whom we met on the site overlooking Route 158. I've already tasted cherries, I'm going coming back for sure, I'm interested in educating myself about permaculture [Editor's note: agriculture respectful of the environment].”
And we can confirm that there are not only cherries, or blueberries and currants in this new kind of garden, having ourselves been able to taste raspberries and blackcurrants there, in addition to seeing a pear tree and a plum tree, during our visit.
Marie-Pier Aubuchon, who was mayor of La Visitation-de-l'Île-Dupas from 2017 to 2021, was involved in the birth of the project during the last two years of her mandate and says she is proud of the result.
“We also want to be an example, we would like there to be more and more nourishing forests in Quebec, explained Ms. Aubuchon, also met on site. I am proud to have brought this to the municipality.”
Amélie Drainville, a citizen involved in the project, is currently writing a master's thesis on Quebec policies on agriculture and agri-food, at the School of Applied Policy at the University of Sherbrooke.
According to her, this kind of initiative is beneficial.
“Our food resilience as a people is of great concern to me,” she told us. As soon as the chain of the global food system breaks because the price of oil increases or there is a war in Ukraine, everything breaks down and we are no longer able to eat. We need to rethink our food systems on a small scale.”
Precisely, the reflection element is part of the project. Conferences are offered there, as well as yoga sessions focused on the nourishing forest.
“The objective is to continue to improve the educational component,” said Jean Drainville.
The citizen committee that maintains this nourishing forest estimates that it required around 2,000 hours of volunteer work in 2020-2021, in addition to having received $50,000 in grants between 2019 and 2021 for its establishment. .