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Legacy of Suzanne Hanna lives on in local community garden (6 photos)

Forest Heights Community Garden renamed after highly regarded horticulturalist

The Sault Ste. Marie Horticultural Association has renamed a community garden in memory of someone whose name was synonymous with gardening in the region. 

The Forest Heights Community Garden in the P-Patch neighbourhood will now be officially known as the Suzanne Hanna Memorial Community Garden going forward. 

Hanna died Dec. 2 at the age of 64.  

A number of people, including Kathy Lemieux of Lemieux Composting, spoke highly of Hanna’s leadership qualities during Monday’s renaming ceremony.  

“I think of her passion and dedication, and always trying to recognize someone else or give something back to the community, not expecting anything in return,” Lemieux said.

When Mike Delfre was originally hired to create Harvest Algoma for the United Way, Hanna was one of the first people he went to for ideas and inspiration on how to eliminate hunger in the community. 

“Gardening was her passion, but you don’t garden for no reason. And hunger was the reason,” Delfre told the crowd gathered for Monday’s renaming ceremony. “So Susanne very quickly sort of took over the area - what do we do with food that we rescue, what do we do with food that we grow. She donated a number of food preserving kits for us and helped us design some programs that we could teach people how to cook - teach people how to garden and how to cook so they can take care of themselves and feed themselves.”

“That was a side of her that we saw. As you heard from many people, she was the kind of person you couldn’t say no to.” 

Sault Ste. Marie Horticultural Society member Lorraine DeFazio knew Hanna for many years, and feels as though she’s still very much around. 

“She was the mover, the essence of community gardening,” DeFazio said. 

Hedi Kment usually has at least three garden beds at what’s now known as the Suzanne Hanna Memorial Community Garden. She says that she had a passion for gardening before meeting Hanna, but that passion grew due to Hanna’s influence. Kment now helps others with gardening advice. 

“I really wish she was still here. I miss her. But I’m really honoured that the community has dedicated this park to her,” said Kment. “She would say ‘don’t do this for me, it’s alright’, because she wasn’t a person who wanted a lot of acknowledgement.”

“She loved doing what she did because she loved it, and that’s important. But she would be really happy, I think, in the long run.”