New garden digs in

Cloverdale United Church invites the neighbours over to grow some food at a new community garden.

Greg Diack (with the wheelbarrow) and a host of other helpers built a community garden at Cloverdale United Church.

Greg Diack (with the wheelbarrow) and a host of other helpers built a community garden at Cloverdale United Church.

Cloverdale is home to its first community garden, thanks to the generosity of a local church congregation – and the army of volunteers who came together last week to build it.

The new garden consists of 15 raised beds constructed from wood, now filled with many wheelbarrows full of fresh, loamy soil, primed and ready for planting.

A new crop of gardeners have already signed up, meaning all 15 beds are already spoken for and there’s a growing waiting list for the garden, located on the western lawn of Cloverdale United Church at 17575 58A Avenue.

As many as 30 people turned out for last week’s work party, where the large wooden beds were lifted into place and filled with soil, all under the guiding hand of Can You Dig It, an organization helps neighbours create and manage inclusive, food-growing gardens, and muscle power supplied by Don’t Sweat It Services. The job was done before noon.

“Honestly, I don’t think anyone thought we’d be done this quick today,” said Steven Cutler from Don’t Sweat It services, a social enterprise group that supplied a four-man work crew to install the garden boxes.

The boxes, in turn, were built by BC Woodworks, from the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion.

“So, it’s like a whole bunch of people coming together,” he said.

Among the volunteers was United Church member May Taylor, who cheerfully shoveled dirt into the beds, grateful for partially sunny skies and a cooling breeze May 9.

She was happy to see everyone coming together for the project.

It’s an outreach project of the Cloverdale United Church, which is supplying the land and water for the community garden.

“As a congregation, we wanted to be sharing the asset that we have, which is this beautiful land,” explained Cloverdale United Church member Jane Harding, pointing out that the new community garden is near Bethshan Gardens, a retirement home, and is walking distance from nearby apartments – both sources of interested community gardeners.

One of the garden boxes will be tended by the pre-school class that operates in the church basement.

The rest of the gardeners represent a cross-section of Cloverdale residents.

The organizing group is comprised of local community members in partnership with several non-profit organizations, Can You Dig It, Pos-Abilities, Living Soil BC and Don’t Sweat It.

Surrey doesn’t have very many community gardens, which was one reason why Can You Dig It got involved, said project coordinator Cinthia Pagé.

Participants pay a small membership fee. The funds will help pay for maintenance, tools, and new fruit trees.

Some of the produce will be donated to people in need, added Pagé.

Next up is a new community garden at Bethany Newton Church that will sport 50 beds.

“We’re going to partner with them and mentor them,” Harding said, adding once it’s complete, people on the Cloverdale wait list may be referred there.

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