By: Chris Parker

When the advertising for the end-of-season event for the Open Gate Garden went out in the McBride community, the garden was in full bloom and the produce looked quite spectacular. While the brassica and various kinds of kale survived the recent frost, tomatoes and other vegetables quickly wilted, but that didn’t spoil the attendance and pride of the participant gardeners. Held under a brilliant blue sky with a warm sun overhead, some 50 people participated in what will hopefully be an annual event.

With gardeners coming from Dunster, McBride and surrounding areas, the garden has become a social hub as well as educational point for young and old. The interchange of ideas and knowledge is central to the new understanding of the definition of Literacy, as in this case the oral learning method and hand over hand learning is demonstrated. One bed was lovingly tended by the Ingeberg Richter family, while another was utilized by a class of youngsters from Centennial Elementary. There was also a local and well known senior who admitted to having been a city girl all her life and who jokingly referred to Safeway and vegetables in the same breath. She suggested that the joy and knowledge of learning to grow her own vegetables had passed her by – until now. Proving the old adage that “it’s never too late to learn,” her husband is now constructing a garden at their home that will allow her to practice her new hobby, with the skills learned at the Open Gate Garden.

Surrounding the garden were the remains of some 19 hanging baskets of flowers which have provided both a blast of colour for all the passing McBride villagers to enjoy while also attracting the bees necessary for pollination. Interestingly, the task of maintaining the flower baskets led to the involvement of a Jasper-based CN employee who, having taken the train from Jasper, had a few hours before the return trip and utilized that time to work in the garden. Susan Dahl’s work was aided by local gardener Norma Arneson who lovingly came in to water the baskets twice a day all summer. Thus they were among the several recognized for their special contributions. Also of special note was Brigit Uhl who guided the project to make a documentary film of The Open Gate story and in particular stress the Literacy and teaching components of the garden – this movie recently winning 4th place in a Province of BC wide competition. In addition several gardeners acknowledged the help of The Elks/Royal Purple who provided power, bathroom and kitchen facilities when the participants were working on their allotments.

Led by Nancy Taylor, the Open Gate Literacy project continues to provide a valuable hub for the mixing of generations, the interchange of knowledge and thus by extension of Literacy. Nancy, in extending her thanks to one and all, also asked for naming ideas for the newly completed shed at the South end of the garden.

One can hardly wait to see how this project continues to flourish!