Heartland Beautification Committee and community gardens chair Rob Spencer and committee member Grace Fix promote projects at the Stettler trade show last month.

Stettler plots gardening strategy

Now that the weather has warmed up for spring, Stettler has planted the seed to further beautify the town.

Now that the weather has warmed up for spring, Stettler has planted the seed to further beautify the town.

Plans include garden and mural contests and expanded community gardens and a new orchard.

“We have some great initiatives this year, which run in the areas of beautification, environment and heritage conservation,” said Rob Spencer, who chairs Heartland Beautification Committee and Stettler Community Gardens.

Expanded community gardens

An additional community garden at 41 Avenue and 60 Street east of the Tot Lot will be planted this month, with $17,900 in seed funding from TD Friends of the Environment Fund.

Those steps were also taken to enhance the community and chances to win Communities in Bloom at the national and international levels for the second year.

Communities in Bloom

Judges are scheduled to tour the town July 26 and 27.

Stettler will face challenges from:

Municipality of Jasper

Community of Fogo, N.L.

Town of Antigonish, N.S.

Lakeside Chautauqua, Lakeside, Ohio

Stanghow, Redcar and Cleveland, UK

Tenby Town, Pembrokeshire, UK

Village of Abbeyshrule, Longford, Ireland

Garden contests

“We are doing the garden contest to raise the profile of gardening and highlight the beauty that folks accomplish through their efforts,” Spencer said.

“It gives a chance for us and community residents and neighbours to recognize effort and beauty.”

Awards will be presented for the best residential flower garden, residential in-ground flower garden and residential edible garden, with submissions for entries accepted from June 1 to Aug. 31.

Top winners in each category will receive $100 Heart of Alberta dollars for Stettler and qualify for a further contest with Communities in Bloom.

Mural contest

Winners of the mural contest are expected to be announced soon for small murals in West Stettler Park, Lakeside Cemetery and the dog park after voting ended earlier this week.

“One of the main reasons for this contest is to encourage involvement from the community and to collect material from talented folks,” Spencer said.

“It fits with our heritage conservation committee work at the same time and it will have themed material that we can use to put on the backs of the new information signs around town, adding colour, visual value and removing the empty space that might attract graffiti.”

That is in direct response to a Communities in Bloom judge comment from their evaluation last year, he said.

Community orchards

A community orchard has been planned for the green strip along 40 Avenue just west of the new location of Stettler Alliance Church on 41 Avenue.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are going to do various beautification activities, we might as well have multiple benefits from each,” Spencer said.

That expansion will be finalized as the committee awaits approval of the grant around mid-May from CN EcoConnexions “From the Ground Up” grant for a 10,000 square foot expansion of the Rotary Millennium tree park to beautify the area and provide food value.

The Rotary Millennium tree park is sort of a “secret” fruit orchard in the town, Spencer said. “Lots of people pick sour cherries there every year and there are many fruit bushes throughout it.

“So, I thought we might expand that space to make it a more official community orchard, putting in some more mulched pathways off of the other space, and fill the rest with a wide range of fruit bushes and trees.”

Signs and benches will go in, as well, while each type of tree will be marked and a sign describing other landscape.

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