Surrey garden project works to connect youth and seniors

The project's first garden features vegetables, herbs, and locally-made artwork

The Garden of Generations at Unwin Park. (Nicole Gonzalez Filos)

The Garden of Generations at Unwin Park. (Nicole Gonzalez Filos)

After the success of the “Garden of Generations” at Unwin Park as part of the Connecting Generations project earlier this year, the City of Surrey is looking towards setting up another community garden in Francis Park at Fleetwood around late September or early October this year. 

“Connecting Generations is about bringing different generations together, so the projects we’ve been working on are with seniors and youth,” says Sahra-Lea Tosdevine-Tataryn, the project manager of Connecting Generations. 

The project is also funded by the Surrey Intercultural Seniors Social Inclusion Partnership Network.

The garden has nine boxes approximately a foot and a half wide on each side, Camilla Daoud, the community services assistant leading the project, confirmed in an email to The Runner. The garden “will include baby leaf lettuce, loose-leaf lettuce, chives, scallions, snap peas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, radishes and cilantro,” reads the City of Surrey’s website

Even though the pandemic caused a delay in setting up the garden, the city was able to pull through with organizing the project this year. 

“One of our staff would offer a workshop online, so the seniors and youth would plant the seedlings from their home,” Tosdevine-Tataryn says. 

“We have a virtual workshop and the seedlings were planted into a ‘Garden of Generations’ set up in Unwin Park, and so then they donated the vegetables to sources so that the vegetables could be dispersed amongst people who need vegetables and food programs.”

Art projects have also been created at the garden. Claire Moore, a local multi-media artist who has worked with Surrey on various projects before, assisted volunteers with the creation of the art pieces. 

Online workshops were hosted over Microsoft Teams with Moore hosting two of them and assisting in helping both seniors and youth create their art projects for the garden. The project has been received positively following the first interactions between both seniors and youth.

“I think it’s been really successful and it’s quite powerful when you bring generations together, because not only do both generations learn from each other … [they] are engaging with each other and learning from each other. It’s very powerful actually,” says Tosdevine-Tataryn. 

She says that through the virtual events youth and seniors came together and discovered they had a lot of similarities, and talked about different activities, stories, and shared life experiences.