It’s been a successful growing season as Fernie in Bloom has blossomed into its second year as part of the Fernie festival and event program. Fernie in Bloom is a Chamber of Commerce initiative that awards Bloom Ratings for achievement in floral displays, fruit and vegetable plots, environmental awareness and tidiness.
“There were 18 entrants with very attractive and imaginative planting with great environmental awareness and sustainability in fruit and vegetable plots,” said Sarah Parry, Fernie Chamber of Commerce (FCC).
Ralph and Margaret Stadnichuk won the Best Residential Garden-Fruits and Veggies category. “She points, I plant,” joked Ralph. Ralph begins his growing season in March with a grow light to start seedlings. “You can’t start too soon as the plants get leggy searching for light.” They pick up more seedlings from the Fernie Garden Centre or Top Crop in Cranbrook.
“Gardening continues through into the kitchen and into the deepfreeze,” said Margaret. “It’s a lot of work but we enjoy it in the winter.” She dries basil and kale, which she uses in soups she makes once a week in the winter. “It’s good in pasta and they call it nature’s broom,” said Ralph.
Weather is the one constant gardening challenge. If there is one thing that grows the best in Fernie, it’s zucchini. “Corn is difficult to grow here because it requires so much sun but I think we might get some as it’s been so hot and dry this year,” said Ralph. The Stadnichuks use compost to amend their soil and use grass clippings around their squash patch to keep the grass from taking over. Their garden is intermixed with flowers and there is a constant hum of bees heavy with pollen hovering from flower to vegetable blossoms doing their critical work as pollinators. “We always have lots for ourselves and to share,” said Margaret.
The FCC, working with the City of Fernie Beautification Committee and sponsored by The Free Press is committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community participation and the challenge of a competition.
Fernie has the added benefit of being an area of outstanding natural beauty. Mixed with attractive planting displays, it’s a win win.
Contact the Chamber of Commerce if you would like to be involved or if you have ideas for next year.
Small Storefront-No Garden: Polar Peek Books
Large Storefront-No Garden: Fernie Alpine Resort
Best Business with a Small Garden: The Bridge Bistro
Best Fernie and Area Hotel: Lizard Creek Lodge
Best Fernie and Area Condo/B&B/or Guest House: Fernie Lodging Company
Best Residential Garden-Flowers: Mary Ellen Kendall
Best Residential Garden- Fruits & Veggies: Ralph & Margaret Stadnichuk
The Red Tree Lodge
Fernie Golf & Country Club