The Intergenerational Garden has been like an oasis in the heart of the city for seniors and students in the community during a pandemic that saw severe limitations on outdoor activities.
Located at the corner of Edge Street and 121 Avenue, the learning garden has been a focal point for older volunteers who wanted to be outside, healthy, active and safe, while under COVID-19 restrictions and lock down. And also the young, providing them with an outdoor classroom.
And now, because of a donation from the Ridge Meadows branch of Envision Financial, the garden has been funded for another entire year.
News that will bring a sigh of relief for those that enjoy the peaceful serenity of tending to the vegetable and flower beds.
On Thursday, July 22, Envision branch manager Sherri Tongue, brought a cheque for $5,000 to give to Heather Treleaven coordinator of the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie Seniors Network, and garden coordinator Makenna Patrick.
“We look for all sorts of opportunities in all of our communities,” said Tongue, adding that they donated $3,000 to the Intergenerational Garden last year and because of the great work done at the Intergenerational Garden, that they would up their donation a bit more this year.
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.
It opened in the spring of 2013 after students from Eric Langton elementary planted petunias, peppers, carrots, kale, lettuce, beans and strawberries.
Each year about 400 elementary school students mainly from Eric Langton and St. Patrick’s School participate in the garden.
This year there are about 30 senior volunteers.
Two years ago the garden almost had to shut down because of a lack of financial resources. Treleaven thanked the generous donors on Thursday for keeping the garden in operation.
And, she said, the garden is very important to the community and provides a valuable resource.
During the pandemic, her volunteers stayed involved with the maintenance of the garden, along with watering and harvesting the plants.
“It’s an opportunity, when often they downsize to apartments, to come out and be in the garden,” explained Treleaven.
And, school classes also came to the garden in droves throughout the pandemic because teachers wanted their classes outside, even when it was pouring rain.
“It’s not something we planned for, a pandemic, but we were happy to offer that resource,” she said.
Not only is it a teaching garden, Patrick, who was only hired as the garden coordinator in March, noted that so far this year they have donated more than 150 pounds of fresh produce to the Friends In Need Food Bank.
“Our first harvest started early June, so just in the past two months, we’ve really ramped up. It’s been pretty incredible because it’s more than I could have ever imagined that we would have been able to produce especially because it’s my first year at the garden,” she said.
The recent heat wave also provided a teaching point for students at the garden since it caused some plants in the garden to over produce and others to not produce much at all. It taught them that they have to adapt to climate and the environment, explained Treleaven.
The garden, added Patrick, has also taught the school children about food insecurity, especially during the pandemic when there were food shortages on grocery store shelves.
“It was a good learning opportunity for us with classes to kind of show, hey, a lot of our food comes from a long ways away. So, if can start producing more of it locally, it’s a lot more safe for us and we know where it’s coming from and its going to be a decent steady supply if those chains ever get cut again.”
For more information about the Intergenerational Garden go to seniors-network.ca.
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