Carole McCarthy adjusts a mini-windmill in her garden plot at the Topham Community Garden in Walnut Grove. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Langley community gardens are growing in popularity

The appeal of planting and raising your own crops

When Carole McCarthy saw the digging underway in a park not far from her Walnut Grove home, the Langley resident was delighted to learn a community garden was going in.

She has loved planting and raising her own crops since she was a child.

“I learned everything from my grandmother,” McCarthy said.

“My love of gardening comes from her.”

Built by the Rotary Club with the aid of a Township of Langley grant, Topham Community Garden opened at 21555 91 Ave. in 2012. Topham started with 42 garden plots and now has 62.

One of them is rented by McCarthy, who has become the garden co-ordinator.

“There’s a waiting list,” she warned, as she introduced a Times reporter to some of the other gardeners during a recent open house.

By consensus of her fellow gardeners , Topham member Denise Bul has the best-decorated plot.

“My kids helped,” Bul stressed, posing barefoot for a Times photo in front of a miniature botanical garden that includes lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, spinach and strawberries.

A few plots away, 10-year-old Laine Smith is growing kale, lettuce, cucumbers and more.

What’s his favourite crop?


For an annual fee of $40 for an 8’ by 8’ plot or $30 for a 4’ by 8’ plot, gardeners at Topham commit to keep their plots weed-free, planted and tidy.

They agree they will use no herbicides, insecticides, fungicides “or any other pesticide at any time.”

Fertilizers must be organic, only hand watering is allowed and they agree to volunteer on communal areas like the composters, picnic tables and storage shed.

The social aspect of Topham is a big positive, with a group of friendly, like-minded people working together.

The benefits are also physical.

Various studies have found that participation in a community garden will increase both availability and consumption of fruits and vegetables in households with attendant health benefits.

One study found that community gardeners have a lower body mass index than their non-gardening siblings and unrelated neighbours.

Interestingly, it found no difference in body mass index between gardeners and their spouses, which researchers said could indicate community gardening creates healthy habits for the entire household.

Another study showed children in participating households consumed an average of two additional servings per week of fruits and five additional servings per week of vegetables.

Shared gardens are not a new concept, with a history of allotment gardens in Britain going back to the 1920’s, for instance.

According to a New York City history of the community gardening movement, the concept really began to take off in the 1970’s, led by the “Green Guerrillas,” a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to preserving urban gardens.

The group would lob “seed bombs” packed with fertilizer, seed, and water over fences into vacant lots in the Lower East Side.

After volunteers spent a year removing trash, adding topsoil, installing fencing, and otherwise beautifying a lot, it became the first official community garden in the city in 1974, with 60 vegetable beds leased from the city for $1 a year.

There are more than a dozen community gardens in Langley Township and the City of Langley, operated by a variety of not-for-profit groups.

Among the largest is the Langley Demonstration Garden which recently moved to the Derek Doubleday Arboretum in the 21200 block of Fraser Highway after 20 years in Murrayville.

Run by the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS), the facility offers education and hands-on programs that promote safe home and garden practices such as composting, the use of native plants, and chemical-free gardening.

The Maples Discovery Gardens Co-operative at 7743 200 St. operates a community supported agriculture (CSA) program that generates 10 weeks of fresh, local, naturally grown vegetables and fruits produced at the garden without pesticides or herbicides of any kind, using only organic methods of mulching, fertilizing and planting.

There is enough produced at the garden for only a few customers, and this year’s program was fully subscribed.

The Maples also offers education programs for school children, who tour the facility and acquire some hands-on experience in small-scale, environmentally friendly gardening methods.

It also has a growing colony of bees tended on-site by members.

One of the newest local community gardens opened in 2015 in Langley City in Linwood Park near 201A Street and Michaud Crescent. The project was the second one in the City and the 13th in the two Langleys.

At the opening, there was already a waiting list.

Community gardens in the Langleys with contact information:Aldergrove Community Garden at Aldergrove Athletic Park. Contact:

Derek Doubleday Arboretum at Fraser Hwy between 216 and the Bypass. Contact:

Fort Langley Community Garden at Fort Langley Community Park. Contact:

Linwood Community Garden at 201 Street and 55a Ave. Contact:

Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op at 7743 200 St. Contact:

Murrayville Community Garden at corner of 224 Street and Old Yale Road. Contact:

Nikomekl Community Garden at 20050 53 Ave. Contact: 604-514-2997

Routley Community Garden at 19833 70 Ave. Contact:

Topham Park Community Garden at 21555 91 Ave. Contact:

Trinity Western University Community Garden at 7600 Glover Road. Contact:

U Grow Organic Community Garden at 8181 252 St. Contact: 604-888-1236

Walnut Grove Community Garden at Walnut Grove Park. Contact:

Willoughby Community Garden at 20525 72 Ave. Contact:


Fellow gardeners say Denise Bul has the best-decorated plot in the Topham Community Garden. She credits her kids with helping. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Just Posted

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

VIDEO: The Force will be with bidders at massive Stars Wars auction

Able Auctions at 19757 92A Ave. hosts event that’s open to public Saturday

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants stretch win streak to four by crowning Victoria Royals

Home team owned the play and won despite running into a hot goaltender on Friday

Van fire sends plume of black smoke into sky above Willowbrook

Vehicle a charred shell in fire that slowed Friday commute home

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Kamloops RCMP warning public to stay away from unfolding domestic dispute

The public is being asked to avoid Sabiston Creek Road off of the highway

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Family Christmas fun at Aldergrove’s Loft Country farm

The Loft Country children’s horse camp in Aldergrove is celebrating Christmas in a new way this year

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read