Greening the Museum: Gardens, Salamanders, and Compost Bins by Terra Nord

Returning as the Garden Coordinator at Heritage Park Museum has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience. The season has been marked with new challenges and projects which have not only expanded my knowledge and skill set, but have also contributed to the sustainability of the museum’s Heritage Garden. My goals this summer were to establish more community networking in order to expand the garden and to expand the community’s knowledge of local garden history. I also had a vision to increase the sustainability and conservation efforts of the museum. Lastly, I wanted to incorporate nature, gardening, and agriculture into crafts, activities, and workshops for children. I believe nature can be important to a child’s development and can increase not only one’s quality of life but can also

lead to a future interest in the scientific field.

My first goal, encouraging community awareness, was a huge success. There was much greater promotion and discussion of the garden at Heritage Park Museum. Early on in the summer, the museum held a tea and lecture on the Skeena Wonder Strawberries. The great-niece of the Michaud brothers (creators of the Skeena Wonder Strawberry), Monica Michaud Weldon talked about the history of her ancestors. The interest in the Skeena Wonder Strawberry has been so outstanding this season: the strawberries have now been featured on Daybreak North (local television program), in Monica Michaud Weldon’s lecture, and in two articles in the local newspaper. After all of this publicity, Heritage Park Museum has now given away about 80 runners to people who want to preserve and cultivate this heirloom fruit. The preservation of pioneer plants are important for future generations as it reminds us about the significance of early agriculture and gardening in the Terrace area.

To promote the garden even further, I also coordinated a garden tour which approximately 50 people attended. I had many local individuals who told me that they had lived in the area for many years and had no idea that Terrace had such an interesting agricultural history. I have concluded that my networking efforts have been successful, as I have acquired seven new plant donations this season, which is more than double the plant donations which were collected last year.

My second goal of increasing the museum’s conservation and sustainability efforts has also proven successful. This summer I have researched, planned and built a composting bin for the museum’s organic waste. The wood used for the compost came mainly from the old porch on the Kalum Lake Hotel, the museum’s centrepiece building. I built a rhubarb and potato planter from the old wood as well.

As part of our conservation efforts at the museum, I oversaw the Northwest Reptile and Amphibian Monitoring Program, which is an ongoing regional scientific project to monitor amphibian behaviour and movements. This project is important because amphibians are indicator species for climate and ecological change. The monitoring and expansion of the

program will contribute to conservation and awareness of climate patterns, as modelled through behavioural changes in these indicator species. Plant conservation was also a significant part of my daily tasks this year, as the year supported many harmful pests, which had to be treated organically.

My last goal was to incorporate nature, gardening, and agriculture into crafts, activities, and workshops for children. This was accomplished by partnering with Ksan Society to hold a children’s pie making workshop. The event was held in Ksan Society’s kitchen, and the strawberries and rhubarb used in these pies were from the museum’s garden. This workshop was planned to teach children the valuable skill of baking and to help children understand that the majority of their food originally comes from farms and gardens.

Another event to engage children was a seed planting workshop that I coordinated during our St. Jean Baptiste Celebrations. I had approximately 50 children plant their own sunflower or forget-me-not seed. I also designed a booklet that each child could take home to record and learn how their plant grows. This activity was such a success that it was featured in the local newspaper.

Skills that I have either obtained or improved on have included expanding my writing, research, and communication abilities. I have also expanded my local history knowledge and improved my public speaking skills. The museum’s environment has challenged me as a leader and has encouraged me to work successfully in a team to achieve communal goals. It has been an immense privilege to be the museum’s Garden Coordinator for another summer. I feel as if I have made valuable community bonds and connections that will last a lifetime.