‘Working in dirt, helping earth is fun’

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A Surrey masters in environmental studies grad wants people to get off the couch and outside, pulling on some weeds and planting natural trees.
It’s fun, says Lyda Salatian, who’s organized one of her first gigs for a chunk of land in Maple Ridge.
Salatian just founded the Lower Mainland Green Team, a roving squad of volunteers who take on weekend environmental projects around the Lower Mainland.
Sometimes they’ll do their own project, sometimes they’ll pair up with a local group as they plant native trees, clean up lake or river fronts, restore wildlife sites or build and maintain trails.
But each weekend, two or three times a month, they’ll be in a new place.
“A lot of people spend a lot of time watching TV,” said Salatian.
“So there’s a lot of great things about this. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot more fun than you think.”
On March 13, the squad stops at 13516 – 232nd St., where the Aldridge family offers part of their property as an outdoor classroom for local schools and for the CEED Centre.
That day they’ll be yanking out Scotch broom, and blackberry bushes to clear some space so that raspberries and perhaps huckleberries along with vegetables can be planted.
The work will help the CEED Centre as it implements its Connex project. That’s a partnership with the Aldridge family that owns the land, the CEED Centre and the school district that will allow kids struggling in the conventional school system to gain skills planting, harvesting and marketing food crops, said Christian Cowley, with the centre.
“What the Green Team is going to do is help them clear some of the land for planting.”
How many people will actually show isn’t known, but Cowley is guessing half a dozen.
“What’s great is these are people who come from all over the Lower Mainland.”
While it sounds like work, it is fun working with like-minded people, Salatian says. After the labour, the group usually tours the area, allowing a first-hand view of a new place in the Lower Mainland.
“What we’re trying to do is get people outside and getting their hands dirty, doing things,” she says.
She’s targeting young people and has contacted every high school in the Lower Mainland.
Once the three-quarters of an acre on the Aldridge property is cleared, forest food such as raspberries, can be planted along with vegetables such as peas, beans and potatoes, Cowley said.
“The idea is for kids to grow food for charitable distribution,” for the food bank, Salvation Army and maybe even the Haney Farmer’s Market.
Learning to grow and produce profitably is part of the Connex project.
“All of the purpose for this is to build confidence in kids.”
Cowley said any of the facilities installed on the farm will be portable so that if the Aldridge family wants to sell, the fittings can be moved to another property.
The Green Team’s first project is Sunday in Campbell Valley Regional Park in south Surrey, where they’ll be ripping out English ivy which chokes trees to death.
While the group has only been around for a few weeks, it’s already lined up 11 events in coordination with local groups, as well as Metro Vancouver Parks.


Volunteers are advised to pack a lunch, bring their gardening gloves and wear good boots and have walking shoes for the tour afterwards. A one-time start-up fee of $5 is also needed. To RSVP, go to <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Salatian is also trying to limit carbon output so wants to encourage people to car pool. She’ll be riding her bike from Surrey to Maple Ridge.

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