Pincourt resident Cendrine Mathews is the administrator of the Jardin Gratuit Facebook group, which has over 11,600 members in just over a year.

(Photo Cendrine Mathews)

Founded on December 6th , 2019, the Jardin Gratuit group came from an idea from Mrs. Mathews. Seeding all kinds of vegetables every year, she always ended up having too many plants and had to throw them away. So she created a group where it was possible to exchange plants or seedlings of various vegetables.

Having promoted on a few other pages and groups, Jardin Gratuit already had a few hundred members. Mrs. Mathews explains that it was the pandemic and the spring of 2020 that blew up her group’s count. Today, there are over 11,600 members from across Quebec.

“I’m impressed with how quickly the group has grown, says Cendrine Mathews. I think people are happy to have a place to chat with each other.”

A close knit community

According to Mrs. Mathews, the people who are part of Jardin Gratuit are all there to trade and barter garden goods. In this exchange process, there are often questions about the planting process or the harvest time. As the community includes several horticulturalists and green thumbs, people help each other and answer questions.

“We are a big community that wants to help others. I think we all have more difficult times financially. That’s why I believe people should have access to free seedlings to at least eat well during the summer. Owning a small garden, even in a pot, should be accessible to everyone at all times.”

Management challenge?

Although the group has 11,600 members, the time to manage it is less. However, Cendrine Mathews has tips to help ease management. She emphasizes that the purpose and theme of the group makes management easy. The group administrator believes the exchange of plants and seedlings is not controversial, but she’s keeping her eyes open.

“I have over 100 keywords that send me notifications when one of these is written in the group, she says. It allows me to quickly manage conversations that could degenerate.”

Mrs. Mathews hopes the 2021 gardening season will be even better than last year and will be there with her group to help people, make exchanges and socialize.

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