Linda Stanley Wilson can’t help but see the potential in the Ocean Park Community Orchard.
Located at the corner of 22 Avenue and 128 Street, for years, it was simply green space – a passive plot of land with little more than grass and trees.
Today, about two years after the idea to transform it was first tossed around, it is anything but passive; fruit trees are growing, flowers are blooming, berries bushes are taking root and bee hives are quietly buzzing.
It has become a place for community to gather, contribute and grow together.
“We always have something going on here,” Stanley Wilson said Friday. “The community can come in when they want to and decide to be a part of it, or just come for that one event.”
The idea for the orchard was immediately supported, said Regula Appenzellar, a South Surrey resident who has been an active steward of the orchard from its early days.
The idea “blew up” the Ocean Parker Facebook page, Appenzellar said of a post she made to test the waters.
“Everybody wanted it.”
The City of Surrey gave its approval in July 2016.
And while the apple trees still have a couple of years to grow before they’ll be ready for harvesting – the proceeds are to be donated to the food bank and community kitchens – Stanley Wilson said recognition of the orchard’s significance is blossoming.
This year, it was selected as a Canada 150 celebration site – one of 150 tree-planting sites across the country to be recognized for Canada’s 150th anniversary.
To mark the occasion, an afternoon of activities has been planned for this Saturday.
From noon till 3 p.m., anyone interested is invited to enjoy interactive booths, native plant demonstrations, samples and more. There will be tree planting with local dignitaries, as well as the planting of 1,000 flower bulbs by the 2nd Peninsula Sparks.
The 6th Peace Arch Scouts will lead the singing of O Canada, and carry flags for the ceremony, Stanley Wilson added.
An official dedication of a native plants area is to take place at 1:30 p.m., with speakers to include local politicians, Stanley-Wilson and Paul Macpherson.
Ocean Cliff Elementary students joined Stanley Wilson at the orchard Friday to help plant berries in the native bed, in advance of the upcoming celebration.
Grade 7 student Georgia Redmond, who will be helping with the bulb planting this coming weekend, said she also routinely helps at the orchard with her mom, with such tasks as watering.
Redmond, 12, described the garden as “a community get-together kind of thing.”
“I enjoy it.”
Stanley Wilson said she would love for schools to use the orchard as an outdoor classroom; as well, for senior residents to get involved. They are “our missing component,” she said of the latter.
She emphasized that the orchard is not a community garden.
“A lot of people think of community gardens as the plots that each person singularly owns,” she said. “But this is an orchard that has been planted by anyone from the community. Anyone can still join us in the taking care of these plants, in the harvesting, eventually.
“This is everybody contributes.”
Saturday’s activities will also include opportunities to sample apple cider and honey, and informal sessions for youth by ethnobotanists Roma and Mike Leon from the Katzie First Nation.
The event is supported by a grant from Tree Canada, CN, the federal government and the City of Surrey.