Stettler won bronze and a special mention for its Community Orchard during the 2018 National/International Symposium and Awards Ceremonies in Strathcona County Sept. 26 – 29.
Heartland Beautification Committee Chair Robert Spencer spearheaded the Community Orchard project, which officially opened in September.
“The new community orchard is a wonderful addition to the community as it is now, when completed it will be absolutely outstanding,” said Community in Bloom Judge Larry Hall.
“The scope of this project alone makes it something to be proud of. This will become a legacy project. Well done to all of the businesses that contributed to the project, and especially coordinator, Rob Spencer.”
Hall, and fellow judge Bernadette Solon, said they were impressed with the diversity of the 200 fruit trees and bushes, along with the vast planting of 12,000 flowers. They also liked the large number of peonies and the inclusion of bee and bat habitats to help with pollination.
Stettler also received an Outstanding Achievement Award for the Scotts Community of Gardeners Award.
Judges Larry Hall and Bernadette Salong toured Stettler’s Community Orchard July 9. Judges looked for the following criteria: Tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape and floral displays.
The orchard is on about one acre of land and when both phases are finished will have everything from apples, pears, sour cherries, Saskatoons and raspberries to currants and blue honeysuckle.
The public is free to pick from the orchard. There will be seasonal events to make sure no fruit is wasted and there will be donations to the local food bank.
The project is being done in two phases. The first phase is complete. So far the committee has raised about $53,000. Their fundraising efforts continue for Phase II, which they estimate will cost about $20,000. The project was originally estimated to cost about $48,000 for Phase I and $20,000 for Phase II but came in under budget in the first phase.
Donations are welcome, including cash, materials, skilled labour or discounts on materials. Anyone wanting to contribute can contact the Parks and Leisure Services office in the recreation centre or call 403-742-4411.