by Anne Champagne; photography by Chillia Zoll
The Talking Spade: Garden Lore from North Slocan Elders is a compendium of gardening wisdom from the north Slocan Valley in the Selkirk Mountains of southeastern British Columbia. In 2014 and 2015, the Healthy Community Society invited Grade 4 to 6 students at New Denver’s Lucerne Elementary Secondary School to interview master growers, and small flocks of 9- to 11-year-olds fanned out to visit farms and gardens from south of Enterprise Creek to Hills.
What they found was wisdom, fun, beauty, innovation, creativity and joy. And lots of stories. Like the time a gardener carried her 105-year-old neighbour back to her own garden so she’d stop weeding out the sweetgrass. Or the Great Canadian Soil Relay when earth from magnificent farmland around the Arrow Lakes was spirited away to New Denver gardens before it was flooded for hydro power.
The Talking Spade honours the North American First Nations tradition of the talking stick whereby a staff is passed around a circle, conferring the right to speak uninterrupted on its bearer and honouring the wisdom of each speaker with attentiveness. Join us as we pass the spade among the genial, joyful and sometimes eccentric characters in this verdant valley.