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Intergenerational Garden in Maple Ridge open for another year

All food will be donated to the Friends In Need Food Bank
Volunteer Barbara McConville was working with students from Mme. Sasaki’s class at Eric Langton Elementary on March 4, using the square foot planting tool to plant pea seeds. (Contributed)

The Intergenerational Garden has found a new lease on life after community donors stepped forward with much needed money to keep it going for another year.

The garden, at the corner of Edge Street and 121 Avenue, was set to close for good after it’s main funder since 2012, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, was unable to support the garden due to a drop in contributions to their environmental funds.

But, after an appeal for funding, the teaching garden, where local seniors teach school-aged children how to garden and how to grow their own food, was able to open again in March, just before students left on March Break.

The annual budget for the garden is around $13,000, said Heather Treleaven, coordinator of the Seniors Network.

READ MORE: Intergenerational Garden in Maple Ridge set to close if funding not found

Now the garden has another hurdle to overcome.

The COVID-19 outbreak has meant the senior volunteers are working alone.

“We are going to follow the same program we have been running but just without the teaching aspect,” said the garden’s coordinator Heather Jonatschick.

What they have decided to do is bulk up each bed in the garden and donate all the fresh produce to the Friends In Need Food Bank.

“We don’t need to leave as much space in the garden for the kids to be harvesting,” said Jonatschick.

READ MORE: Seniors garden with Eric Langton kindergartners

So they will be monopolizing every square foot to help those in need.

“This is just another example of sharing the bounty. I applaud their efforts and certainly welcome their product,” said Mary Robson, executive director of the food bank.

The garden was constructed in 2012 by the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Seniors Network, after receiving a $24,750 grant from New Horizons for Seniors, with cooperation from the school district and the City of Maple Ridge.

In the spring of 2013, students from Eric Langton Elementary planted petunias, peppers, carrots, kale, lettuce, beans and strawberries.

Because of the crisis Jonatschick has only asked about 10 volunteers who were working with students to continue with their beds.

“I just worry because all of our volunteers with the exception of myself as the coordinator are aged 55 plus. They are the most vulnerable,” noted Jonatschick.

For March they’ve planted things like peas, spinach, kale, radishes. Next week they are going to start rolling out carrots and lettuce and Swiss chard.

And Jonatschick is hopeful that when students do return to school, if not before their summer break, then in September, they will be just in time for the fall harvest.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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