All posts by Teresa Murphy

Coming soon: Saving the neighbourhood series

Coming soon – Saving the neighbourhood
Soon – over the holidays in December 2017, I’m going to post articles and short pieces I’ve been writing for the past few years about my neighbourhood.

It’s Richmond’s South Slough Heritage District – east of Steveston, running from Steveston Highway south to the Dyke and the Village of Finn Slough, and from No. 2 Road east to No. 5 Road.

I was born and grew up not far from here, and my husband and I own a small hobby farm – more of a large garden – which includes the 1935 Jacobson house.

In the past I’ve written a series of Saving the Neighbourhood pieces, including:
Saving the neighbourhood: who throws garbage in paradise

Saving the neighbourhood: industrial land encroaches on farmland

Saving the neighbourhood: against the odds: small scale farming in Richmond

Saving the neighbourhood: Ray Galawan stops dumping on farmland

Saving the neighbourhood: hunters: the City listens

Saving the neighbourhood: hunters back in the field

Saving the neighbourhood: the proposed Massey tunnel replacement

Saving the neighbourhood: rising water

Litter in paradise. Who throws garbage on farmland?

Bridger Garden
Steve Bridger’s garden, by Woodward’s Slough

Steve Bridger doesn’t have enough fingers to count the number of times he’s had litter thrown on his award-winning garden in the last month.

Yesterday, as he tells it, a gleaming BMW stopped at the side of the road, a passenger opened a door and tossed out fast food wrappers.

“They didn’t see me pruning. When I hollered at them, they sped off in a spray of gravel, leaving me to clean up their mess,” he said.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, and visitors in vehicles admire and photograph Bridger’s peaceful plot, set on farmland on the winding, rural, Finn Road. The garden surrounds his 1912 cottage, spilling across the road alongside Woodward’s Slough in an agricultural  area of Richmond, a city 20 miles south of Vancouver.

Adrienne Moore, a local painter, has set up her easel. “What is that divine fragrance?” she asks, walking past beds of asters, hollyhocks, lilies, gardenias, honeysuckle, roses, and sweet William. “Oh, it’s the lavender,” Moore decides.

Bridger maneuvers his rake around clusters of violet lupines, unearthing soda cup lids and a child’s sock, mumbling about how he raked this last week, then using a gloved hand, wages war on cigarette butts permeating periwinkle ground cover.

In the three decades he has tended his garden, he’s seen littering escalate. When he first bought the place and started creating the beds, he’d pick up beer bottles and cans on Sunday mornings. “That was about it,” he said.

Over the years, candy bar wrappers and chip bags appeared. When a suburban mall was built a mile away, swathes of cardboard coffee cups and fast food containers materialized.

As fees at the local landfill have risen, so has dumping.

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“We’ve seen couches, tables, chairs, televisions, mattresses and drywall dumped,” said Graham Price, a neighbor, pointing to the Woodward Slough, a much-needed habitat for frogs, bats, river otters and herons. “Anything that can be thrown out of a car or unloaded from a truck ends up here.”

Litter Couch and chair 1024x682Bridger recently heard a car door slam on a quiet afternoon and looked out to see a woman hauling an old computer monitor and processor out of her trunk and dumping it in his flowerbed. He stormed outside and told the woman to take it away.

“She had the gall to tell me it was a gift,” he said. “I had to threaten to phone the police before she would drag it back to her car. I know she offloaded it down the road,” said Bridger.

Price says he’s seen drivers of expensive vehicles with children in baby seats throw garbage out of their windows.

Steve Bridger (right) picks up littler

Steve Bridger (right) picks with garbage

“I’ve seen couples stop, get out and casually unload garbage bags with styrofoam beside the road and then accelerate away,” said Price.

The neighbors agree fines are the solution. “We need to take photos of license plates and email them to Richmond’s by-law enforcement department. Then the City has to issue tickets so that litterers don’t come back here and ruin paradise,” said Bridger.

 

 

Finn Slough late October

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Here, in my neighborhood, the south slough area of Richmond, alongside estuaries and bogs are small fertile farms with class 1 and 2 soil.

Local farmers grow a range of crops, and, at this time of year, the easiest crop to sell is  pumpkins. There are fields and fields of them.

IMG_0531Farmers go all out to attract residents from nearby subdivisions and from Vancouver, 20 minutes north, to farm stands.

 

IMG_0528It’s a pleasant place to live. In the early morning, we hear the gentle hum of tractors, and although the yellow leaves are falling fast, there are still a few bees buzzing as they pollinate autumn crops.