Maples Discovery Garden Co-op in Langley is officially closed as of last month.
Despite a prior announcement in June to permanently close the garden due to an influx of theft and squatters, Maples Discovery Garden director Amanda Smith said she was still holding onto a bit of hope that the garden could be revitalized.
However, things only got worse.
“It’s really gross down there. There’s campfires, old food sitting out. It’s disgusting. The last two weeks I kept hauling everyone out of here and if I didn’t do it, this would be a tent city,” said Smith.
As of Nov. 30, Smith’s lease on the property reached a definite end and the property will be handed back to the land developer.
“I cannot last another month here. I have to cut it. I had to haul up to sixteen homeless people out of here. I can’t keep doing that,” said Smith.
Due to continued theft of property and plants, and squatters, the garden’s board of directors decided the cost and time of upholding the space was no longer feasible.
“There was a woman camping out and there were people living in our [abandoned] chicken coop. It was disgusting. It was a string of stuff that happened over four days, and I’m just done.”
Smith also discovered a truck buried near a salmon-bearing stream on the property.
Thieves started targeting the garden back in 2014, and have taken everything from plants to electrical panels, and dumped garbage in garden plots and along the stream.
More recently, an abandoned trailer can be seen on the lot, alongside the chicken coop that Smith said people had been living in.
Fast food cups, mattresses, and litter line the walkways that were once blooming with life.
As for the remaining plants, Smith has relocated them to the North East Gordon Community Garden, and the Aldergrove Community Garden.
The leftover $6,000 that the garden had has been distributed to the Yorkson Community Garden and the Arboretum Society of Langley.
“Giving these donations away is a form of our closure,” said Smith.
A 500-pound rock salmon sculpture was one of the last items to be donated to a local resident.
The co-op garden was first incorporated as a non-profit in May of 2009.
Over time, the garden offered more than 50 community plots for lease, supported community horticultural and agricultural projects, and offered education programs for school children.
“It was amazing. Kids loved it here. The day camps always sold out,” added Smith