Local horticulture students learn about landscaping while volunteering at a home makeover project.

The Red Army has invaded.

For the fourth year in a row, horticulture students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Langley campus, dubbed the Red Army in their matching T-shirts, descended on a residential property to give it a landscaping makeover.

“This was a storybook act of volunteerism by our students in the midst of a busy midterm week,” said Stan Kazymerchyk, the Turfgrass Management instructor. “Kwantlen Horticulture students gave 110 per cent, working tirelessly to show their compassion for a deserving family. They showed hard work, respect, cooperation, creativity and excited smiles throughout the whole process. I am very proud of everything our students were able to accomplish and more importantly with how they did it.”

Kwantlen has partnered with Cornerstone Church in Port Moody to help a family by redoing their home, inside and out.

“Cornerstone sent the Beaudoin family away for a week while they completely renovated their house and Kwantlen Horticulture renovated the outdoor space,” he explained.

But before shovels could hit the ground, students were busy planning.

“A team of three horticulture students, Alyssa Chuback, Alexis Weissler, and Fred Tucker, worked many hours in September to plan yard design, secure donations and organize resources,” he explained.

Then on Oct. 1, a total of 11 students in the turfgrass program were onsite at the 60-year-old Coquitlam home of Chantel Beaudoin. The single mother of a 10-year-old lost her leg in a train accident six years ago and couldn’t afford the extensive repair work required for the home.

By the time the church and Kwantlen finished their work, there had been some 200 people volunteering on the property.

While renovating a property to help out a family, the Kwantlen students were also learning. Kazymerchyk used the work as a sports field construction lab exercise.

“They tilled compacted soil, integrated compost, and installed a premium back lawn, complete with irrigation system,” he said.

Students also made the space look beautiful and on Oct. 3, it was time for the reveal. The students had landscaped the front yard with erennials, trees, bulbs and mulch, graded, installed paving stones, created raised planter boxes and arbors with drip irrigation, and installed a waterfall and covered hammock.

Kazymerchyk integral to the student volunteer program is the support of the turf and landscape industry which provided about $6,000 worth of materials. Supplies were provided by businesss from around the Lower Mainland, including Langley’s Cedar Rim Nursery, Taylors Turf Care of Port Kells, Cloverdale’s Blue Pine Landscaping, Anderson Sod, Kato Nursery, the Vancouver Golf Club, Hanks Trucking and True Grade Construction.

The school monitors its previous landscape makeovers now that it’s been doing it for a few years.

Kazymerchyk said the previous families have kept their makeovers in great condition.

“The families think of their new yards as soothing, peaceful sanctuaries and have gone on to improve their yards even further,” he commented. “The work done by these yard makeovers really makes a strong, positive impact in people’s lives.”

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