Support grows for Ocean Park orchard

City of Surrey staff urging civic politicians to support fruit tree proposal

A small grove of fruit trees and shrubs bearing pears

A community orchard is another step closer to taking root in Ocean Park.

City staff will urge civic politicians on Wednesday, July 20 at a Surrey council parks committee meeting to support in principle the development of an orchard at Ocean Park Terrace Park – and trees could be planted this fall.

Area residents and members of local community groups came up with the idea for a small orchard in a passive grassy area of the city-owned park at 12815 22 Ave.

“We’ve got some enthusiastic residents that want to be involved, and the community is behind it,” said Dan Nielsen, manager of landscape operations and park partnerships for the City of Surrey.

Approximately two dozen fruit trees and shrubs, bearing pears, plumbs, apples, cherries and figs, would be planted in the park. The space offers plenty of sunlight for the trees and is underutilized in its current state, according to Nielsen.

Using data from a survey and two open houses, city staff say they’ve received significant response from the Ocean Park community, with more than 70 per cent of residents supporting the orchard.

“Through the region we’re seeing more people involved in urban agriculture, more people involved in growing their own food. They take interest in where their food comes from,” said Nielsen, adding Surrey is aiming to establish one such orchard per year.

The orchard will also serve as a community hub and offer educational opportunities to students of nearby schools.

“It’s going to make a great community connections location,” said Nielsen. “It’s just going to create a hub of activity and a chance for residents to come out and get to know each other.”

Can You Dig It, a local organization that has helped 40 community gardens grow across Metro Vancouver, would partner with the city in managing the orchard.

The Ocean Park orchard would join other small groves in Surrey parks, such as one in Cedar Grove Park in Whalley, where more than a dozen fledgling fruit trees are planted around community garden plots and bee hives.

“The more variety and the more sustainable things we can reintroduce and bring back into our public lands the better,” said Phil Galbraith, president of the society that manages community gardens at Cedar Grove.

Galbraith said he’s lived in Surrey most of his life and has seen lots of changes, particularly with large-scale development of townhouses and condominiums, which generally don’t offer space for people to grow food.

“We used to have lots of orchards and farms in Surrey back in those times, and of course it’s all been run over and developed. It’s kind of nice to see some of it coming back.”

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