On a fact-finding visit there last month (June), A Rocha UK chief Andy Atkins viewed A Rocha Canada’s (ARC) work of reconnecting people with God’s world. He toured a deprived area of Vancouver, where ARC promotes community gardening.
‘Over the last four years, ARC has developed a network of nearly 40 community gardens linked to local churches,’ Andy explained, ‘with around 400 people directly involved, and many more benefitting indirectly.’
Community Gardens Mobiliser Queenie Hewitt (pictured with urban gardener Jason Wood of SoleFood Street Farms) told him it was ‘wonderful’ to see. ‘Through learning about God’s creation – soil, seeds and seasons – city dwellers are being reintroduced to the wonders of nature,’ she said.
‘The simple act of regularly tending a small food plot together, is giving purpose, a sense of community, and good food to people who need it.’
Andy also saw ARC’s work in the wooded suburbs of Surrey, British Columbia. ‘Through A Rocha’s 11-acre Brooksdale Farm an hour’s drive south of Vancouver, runs the Little Campbell River,’ he pointed out.
‘A couple of years ago an ARC intern accidentally netted a fish she’d never before seen. Amazingly, it was a Salish sucker which had been classified as “extinct”. Now ARC leads the effort to protect the Little Campbell River and its inhabitants.’
Salish suckers are described by British Columbia’s online fishing resource as ‘inconspicuous’. The sucker is found only in a few small lakes and streams.
Working closely with other community organisations, such as the Little Campbell Salmon Hatchery, ARC are restoring the river – reintroducing natural meanders, creating more diverse habitat, and monitoring species from salmon to songbirds.
‘They’re also educating the community about the precious wildlife corridor flowing through their district,’ said Andy. ‘With the hatchery, they’re leading the campaign to head off construction of a massive 700-acre industrial estate.’