Officials with A Rocha Canada welcomed partners and fellow land stewards to their South Surrey property this month to celebrate the $4.1-million gift that gave them a permanent home.
The land at 19353 16 Ave. – where A Rocha has been operating on a year-to-year lease since 2010 – was donated to the organization in December by the Neufeld family.
Brenda Neufeld was just 16 years old when her parents Arnold and Elizabeth bought the property in 1972. With three heritage buildings, and a portion of the Little Campbell River running through, it was being used as a care facility for people with mental illness and disabilities at the time.
“I looked on it sort of like a family adventure,” Neufeld said. “I was 16 – sounded fun to me.”
The family fell in love with the river, she said. They worked to fulfil a dream to have the property used by a non-profit that would honour that work.
Neufeld told attendees at the March 11 event that A Rocha “seemed like a really good fit” for that vision.
“I know my parents would be delighted,” she said, of the 18-acre gift of A Rocha’s Brooksdale Environmental Centre. “Truly, never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined Brooksdale.”
A Rocha – which works in conservation science, environmental education and sustainable agriculture – had been working with the Neufelds since 2008. Director David Anderson described the gift as “fantastic news for A Rocha and for communities around us.”
The land is on Semiahmoo First Nation territory. Band councillor Joanne Charles opened the March 11 event with a prayer song, telling Neufeld it was “to give thanks for the gift that you have bestowed on A Rocha.”
“They will look after the land, the gift, in a good way,” Charles said.
For more on A Rocha, visit www.arocha.ca