LIFE LESSONS OF GREEN AND GROWING THINGS
Gull Lake Communities in Bloom about building a stronger community through nature
By Tim Kalinowski
When people think about the environment in southwest Saskatchewan they tend to think about native grasslands, places like the Cypress Hills or Great Sand Hills and being out on the land. But for the majority of southwest Saskatchewan residents who enjoy town-life the environment can mean doing things better in their day to day lives by using less environmentally harmful chemicals in their home chores, recycling, decreasing their energy usage or even composting. There are many ways to live a more environmentally sustainable life and be in tune with nature. Certainly one of the best ways for the town dweller to forge that natural connection has got to be gardening. Gardening gets you outside, makes you more aware of the natural rhythms of life around you and embodies that fundamental idea of good stewardship so important to local residents.
Bev Potter is the former owner of the Gull Lake Greenhouse and a life-long avid gardener. In the last few years she has become a committee member for the local chapter of Communities in Bloom (CiB) and a strong advocate for a greener, more beautiful Gull Lake. Potter says she has always loved gardening even at a young age and feels gardening has continued to enhance her appreciation for the natural world year after year.
“I like being outside enjoying nature,” says Potter. “Gardening slows you down and centres you somehow. You’re not so rush rush hurry hurry. You’ve got time to contemplate life while you are gardening. It makes you more aware of your environment, the impact you have on it and of looking after nature.”
Green and growing things also enhance the quality of life in a community and help make for a better relationship between neighbours, says Potter.
“In public areas I’d like to see more flowers and greenery. But things like the community garden and public green spaces are really good for the town. It’s nice to have people walk through the park and have these green spaces for people to spend time in. It just makes it a nicer community to live in.”
Potter says while Gull Lake residents have always maintained nice yards and gardens Communities in Bloom focuses everyone on the task of using their green thumbs to better their community. Potter believes when people enjoy beautiful surroundings they become better people and better citizens.
“I just think when you drive through towns that have flowers everywhere it just makes you feel like somebody cares about the community,” explains Potter. “They care what their community looks like and it just adds a whole different aspect.”
Fellow Gull Lake resident, local Communities in Bloom chairman and town councillor Ed Lowenberger couldn’t agree more with Potter. Lowenberger says his family’s garden has always given him a refuge to go to and think through life’s problems.
“I don’t know of very many people that don’t sit out in their yard in the summer time and think and dream about how they want this to look or that to look,” says Lowenberger. “You may see something that you have looked at countless number of other times and all of sudden you look at it just a little different way and it will spark your imagination … For our family, other than the obvious of supplying us with some fresh vegetables and produce, it gives a person a sense of relaxation and satisfaction in being able to produce something with your own hands.”
Lowenberger is hoping to encourage more people in CiB’s second year to get involved, get growing and volunteering to make Gull Lake a greener and more beautiful place. And there are lots of ways to get involved, says Lowenberger — from beautifying and tidying up your own home or business to coming out to volunteer some time weeding in public green spaces to taking over a plot in Gull Lake’s new community garden.
“As far as people getting involved with (CiB), most people in town have a garden. And those that don’t, in my opinion, are missing out on something truly unique… It does enhance the life of people in the community,” says Lowenberger.
Gull Lake Communities in Bloom annual spring clean-up begins on April 22 and goes all week. CiB encourages community members to take part in helping to clean-up Gull Lake’s public places as well as their own yards and homes.
PHOTO: Bev Potter of Gull Lake Communities in Bloom is looking forward to getting out into her garden again this spring.