During the last few years I have witnessed Emma and Elmo bringing large bowls of fresh salads to many Kelowna Canadian Italian Club events. I had heard they tended a garden at their former acreage, now owned by their son. I recently had an opportunity to spend a morning at their garden, and what a beautiful morning it turned out to be.
I picked up Emma from her home in their retirement community and stopped by the farm where we found Elmo, already tending their garden. I was led through a tour of where I saw: tomatoes, garlic, onions, beets, cabbage, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, zucchini, peppers, broccoli, eggplants and basil. There are numerous varieties of lettuce and radicchio. Newly seeded fall endive was lovingly covered with burlap sacking to ensure a good germination. We talked about both the successful and less than successful crops this year, pondering the why’s of nature. It was great to see the use of some tried and true gardening techniques. Of special note were the bean poles. These were harvested from the local forests, just like our pioneer farming families did in the 40s and 50s when acres of beans were grown in Kelowna for the local canneries.
Their garden plot is next to an old shed that seemed to be a treasure trove of “old things.” Included are several tools that came from Italy with Emma and Elmo’s parents. They are still being used to tend their garden. An old hoe, made from Austrian forged steel, is well worn on one corner from repeated use.
Our talk, as we walked through the garden, was interesting and informative. But, what followed was even more special. Emma had set up some chairs under a cherry tree, overlooking the garden. We were sitting in the shade, there was a slight breeze, we had coffees in hand and we chatted about gardens, old Italian families and memories of family events. We talked about how so many of Kelowna’s early Italian families are interconnected. We relished in the telling of stories that show we are really one big family.
This was a very special morning… but one that is in everyone’s reach, at almost any time… all we need to do is take the time to be with each other and enjoy some of life’s simpler events.
Life-long Gardener Don Rampone shares his tips and advice for gardening