Community Papers

Sharing Farm gets grant for Seniors Greenhouse Club

James Gates, executive director of The Sharing Farm, shakes hands with Richmond MP Alice Wong after she announced more than $19,000 in federal funding that will help seniors stay fit by volunteering. - Martin van den Hemel
James Gates, executive director of The Sharing Farm, shakes hands with Richmond MP Alice Wong after she announced more than $19,000 in federal funding that will help seniors stay fit by volunteering.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

Local seniors will have an extra jump in their step thanks to a new $19,000 federal grant aimed at helping older adults remain active, healthy and contributing members of the community.

On Wednesday morning, Richmond MP Alice Wong put on her boots and trekked to The Sharing Farm at Terra Nova Park, to make the funding announcement outside the farm’s Seniors Greenhouse Club.

“I think this project is a surefire recipe for success,” Wong said.

Sporting raised beds that make it easier for seniors to plant seedlings and eventually harvest crops for donation to the local food bank, the club will use the money to upgrade its collection of garden tools and modify greenhouse shelving that will make it easier for seniors to access.

The project is expected to benefit 5,000 seniors, with a shuttle bus service that will be set up at Richmond Seniors Centre which will ferry interested seniors to the West Richmond farm.

“As people get older, they look for new ways to stay active and make a difference in their communities,” said Wong, minister of state for seniors.

“By supporting projects such as these, we’re making sure that seniors maintain a good quality of life.”

Maureen Langan, co-chair of The Sharing Farm, said: “In order for us to continue the important work we do for the community, The Sharing Farm relies heavily on the generous donations from individuals, corporations and government agencies.”

Volunteers spent some 14,000 hours at the farm, helping it fulfill its mandate, she said.

Greenhouse co-ordinator Susan Lee Hem acknowledged that “community-minded seniors” played a pivotal role in the founding of The Sharing Farm.

“I have to remember Mary Gazetas and her friends who are the ones who initially started off by gleaning fruits trees within Richmond and from there began growing vegetables in the Steveston area,” she said.

She recognized the Sharing Farm has a great environment for socializing and contributing to the community.

“With the funding, with the facilities that we have here, with this beautiful environment that we have here, now we need to get that message out there to the seniors who are feeling isolated, who are feeling like they are no longer useful, who have lost connection maybe with their friends, who are no longer active in the workplace, to know that there is a place for you.”

She added: “There is a place for you to come and exercise, breathe the most wonderful fresh air, watch the seasons go by, enjoy all of the nature we are surrounded by...and develop new relationships, new friendships...”

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