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Seeds and produce up for grabs at HBC event

It may have had a small start, but organizers of a new fall event hope they’re sowing the seeds for bigger and better things
Rob Spencer and Grace Fix of the Heartland Beautification Committee hold up seeds

It may have had a small start, but organizers of a new fall event hope they’re sowing the seeds for bigger and better things in future years.

The Heartland Beautification Committee combined two events — a seed exchange, and a fruit and vegetable exchange — into one on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 27, inviting local gardeners to gather outside the historic P&H grain elevator in Stettler.

Committee chair Rob Spencer said that after distributing seeds at the spring trade show, it seemed natural to offer a similar event in the fall to allow gardeners to meet and exchange seeds with each other.

Similarly, the fruit and vegetable exchange gave gardeners a chance to share their leftover produce to keep it from going to waste, said committee member Grace Fix, adding that it was an ideal opportunity for those who don’t grow enough to run a table at the farmer’s market.

“Anybody can come and take whatever they’d like for free,” said Fix. “It will take a while for people to realize this is an option, but we’re hoping this will take off.”

Fix said the committee had used social media and the Internet to encourage such exchanges before, but this was the first time they’d set up a time and location.

Spencer and Fix set up shop for a couple of hours and welcomed a few interested people. A variety of seeds and empty seed packets were available, as were fresh tomatoes and rhubarb.

“We view this as a success, because that’s a starting point,” said Fix, adding that leftover produce, if any, would be donated to the local food bank.

The committee is a town-appointed group of volunteers tasked with keeping Stettler “clean and green” — both in terms of plant life, and in encouraging environmentally-friendly living.

While gardening season is winding down, the committee stays busy year-round.

During the winter they continue with several initiatives, including the Walk ‘n’ Roll promotion that encourages people to find alternative transportation to work.

Fix said they will also continue to promote a reduction in the idling of automobiles, along with the BYOBag program that has run for more than a year.

The committee plans to operate a booth at the trade fair in April.

Another major project is the Communities in Bloom initiative, in which the town has participated for more than a decade.

After attending the CiB National Symposium on Parks and Grounds in Charlottetown, P.E.I. from Sept.17 to 20, Spencer said he and the committee are fired up with ideas and ready for 2015.

Stettler was recognized for its efforts this year with a five-bloom rating, while the Walk ‘n’ Roll project earned a special mention. The town also received the Natura Tidiness Outstanding Achievement award.

Fix said that the evaluation from Communities in Bloom helps the committee determine much of its goals and initiatives for the coming year.

The committee remains busy with the downtown park project, which will be located at the southeast corner of 50 Street and 50 Avenue. The current concept for the park includes a design with three miniature storefronts, along with seating and greenery; plans also call for the existing monument to Carl Stettler to be moved to the new park.