Tracy Holmes photo Lesley Tannen (left), general manager at Crescent Housing Society, and Neil Fernyhough, manager of community projects for Alexandra Neighbourhood House, watch as garden members Susan Jensen and Andrea McCorkell pull weeds from one of the beds.

Life of South Surrey community garden extended

Housing society commits space for another five years

Support for Crescent Park Community Garden continues to blossom, and those who planted its seeds and continue to tend to its fruits – and vegetables, and bee hive, and trails and herb garden – couldn’t be happier.

Last month, Crescent Housing Society committed to renew its lease of the one-acre site to CPCG for five years, at $1 per year, as well as pay the taxes on it for that period. The first term was a two-year commitment.

“I think they recognize it as a community partnership,” CHS general manager Lesley Tannen explained last week of the society board’s decision.

“Vacant lots in Surrey are sort of prone to misuse,” she added. “We’re just happy to see it well-used.”

The 56-plot garden was built on a one-acre site at 128 Street and 25 Avenue, just north of Crescent Park Elementary, and behind Kiwanis Park Place.

Operated by Alexandra Neighbourhood House, it was initiated by gardeners who got involved with the Alexandra Community Garden, a 30-plot project that launched in 2012 in a small park owned by ANH in Crescent Beach.

The gardeners wanted to increase the area’s community-garden capacity, said Neil Fernyhough, ANH’s manager of community projects.

Fernyhough described community gardens as an “amazing” way of bringing people together. As well, they’ve been proven to create happier, healthier individuals and communities.

“It brings people of diverse backgrounds together around a shared passion… and then they form a community around that,” Fernyhough said.

Henry Lazar, Susan Jensen, Chris Roulson and Andrea McCorkell were among CPCG members who were at the site Friday.

Lazar, who was doing some cleanup, described his plot as “my little project.”

Beets, beans and pumpkins were among his plantings this year – while the beets were “quite small,” the beans were a success, he said – and he’s experimenting with kale for the winter.

“I’m going to over-winter it, just to see what happens,” he said.

He said the garden, which he usually cycles to, is “the first time I’ve sort of made a conscientious effort to grow stuff.”

Susan Jensen said she and her husband, Richard, both enjoy being involved – adding or tending to infrastructure, weeding, watering and more.

“It’s something we can do together,” she said. “And it’s fun getting to know everybody here.”

Garden committee member Andrea McCorkell noted the site has come a long way.

“Originally, this was just all brush, and a lot – a lot – of blackberry bushes,” McCorkell said.

Now, in addition to members’ own plots – each pays a $35 annual fee – there is one dedicated for Sources’ food bank, and two for Crescent Park Elementary students. Ten plots are wheelchair accessible; another two along the garden’s exterior fences – one on the east side and the other on the south – are for sharing with the public.

Fernyhough noted that of the 75 or so gardeners involved in the community garden, about one in five are tenants of Kiwanis Park Place, which is owned and operated by Crescent Housing Society.

Tannen said everyone, regardless of age or ability, benefits from opportunities to be outside, and “the fact that it’s right next door is great.”

Getting dirty, she added, “addresses the child within.”

Fernyhough said while he would “love” to plant more community gardens, there are no immediate plans to expand on what is already in place.

“We now have four community gardens in a three-kilometre radius in this area, and that’s amazing for any neighbourhood,” he said.

For more information or to be added to the waiting list for a garden plot, contact Fernyhough at 604-535-0015, ext. 236.

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Susan Jensen tends to her tomato plants Friday at Crescent Park Community Garden. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Some of the “fruits” of gardeners’ labour. (Tracy Holmes photo)

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