Dale Wilker ►
Dale, soil whisperer and farmer at Old Blue Truck Farm, has spent the last 15 years pursuing the goal of bringing more local healthy food to the Columbia Valley, but his farming career actually started over 58 years ago. Dale used to ride on his grandpa’s lap while he was working the fields on their 30 acre vegetable farm near Kitchener, Ontario.
Fast forward 43 years, in 2005 Dale was asked to be part of the team that built the Community Greenhouse for the Groundswell Network Society. The knowledge and experience he gained over the 11 years that he was a board member at Groundswell gave him, and his family the courage to start their own farm. After a few years of searching for the right land, The Old Blue Truck Farm was born in 2016. For six years they have sold fruits and vegetables at the local markets, through a CSA, and at their own farm stand.
Heather Fishbuch ►
Ranch raised and garden fed Heather grew up on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. She had the opportunity to garden at every ranger station in Kananaskis country and several communities in the boreal forest before moving to the sunny Columbia Valley. For a 10 year period she worked closely with Alberta Agriculture to explorer and diversify acreages promoting growing of medicinal and culinary herbs, and the value chain of them. This culminated in operating a teaching, & commercial scale distillery for essential oils and the presentation of Alberta’s native plants essential oils to the world aromatherapy conference. To stay sane in 2020 she thoroughly enjoyed studying the Verge Permaculture course. She is a past board member of Groundswell and is an avid wildcrafter of native medicinal plants to make medicines with. She uses these medicines for family or friends or through her Flourishing Health, Holistic Health Clinic in Invermere.
Jim Bennett ►
Jim came to the Columbia Valley in 1970 to be a lifeguard at Radium Hot Springs. After that, he and his wife Claudette worked for 8 years as a naturalist in 4 National Parks. In 1980-84, he taught at Edgewater Elementary School and Claudette taught in Radium. At the same time, they homesteaded a 50-acre hobby farm in Brisco. Then they taught in overseas schools in Cameroon, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar returning to their home in Invermere each summer for some hiking and gardening. Last spring, he bought a good-quality greenhouse kit to lengthen the growing season in his garden. It has been a huge success yielding boxes of tomatoes and green peppers and they filled two freezers with garden produce and canned some great relishes and beets. He is hoping for another sunny summer.
Landon Dale ►
Hi, I’m Landon! I’m a 17-year-old student living here in Invermere. I am very passionate about environmental issues and have had a lifelong love of animals and gardening. I discovered vermicomposting about a year ago and feel way better throwing my scraps in there than in the trash. It is a very easy and waste-free hobby that anyone can do.
Laura MacKinnon ►
Laura has a deep love and respect for Nature and all things green and dirty, started from a very young age in the garden and her favourite spot in the world – Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, where she grew up. This love brought her to Lethbridge where she completed multiple diplomas in Environmental Studies, and took her skills into the field of industry, non-profit and community outreach. She has a passion for teaching and sharing her knowledge with others, especially helping to discover their own love of Nature and wild things. Laura lives in Invermere with her partner Andy, daughters Keely and Winnie, and furry friend Indika. Her favourite places to be are on her yoga mat, wandering hiking trails, or on her paddleboard.
Laurie Rabatich ►
Meet Laurie – I began gardening alongside my mother with our hands in the rich, black soil of the aspen parklands of Saskatchewan. We planted everything from seed & our harvests were bountiful. I was drawn by the beauty & color of the rows of flowers & loved bringing bouquets to my teachers. After attending the University of Saskatchewan I became an elementary teacher working with young children before starting our own family.
Once married & living in Calgary I learned of the many challenges of a short growing season & the June hail storms!
Numerous experienced gardeners shared their knowledge through the Calgary Horticultural Society of which I was a member for many years. After moving to an acreage outside the city my husband & children helped transform our treeless property into one bordered by groves of trees & shrubs hardy to the area.
It has been such a pleasure to garden in the valley over the past 24 years @ our cabin. I have learned so much from local experts & avid gardeners. Also by working @ a local greenhouse I met many wonderful residents of the Invermere area. Now through Groundswell I feel more connected & rooted to this community.
Sabrina Boileau ►
Sabrina is the new Horticulturist/Greenhouse Supervisor for Home Hardware. You will be seeing lots of changes at Home Hardware this coming growing season in 2023 as she opens a new greenhouse and expands the gardening lines for the benefit of all our gardeners.
Sabrina is passionate about biointensive agriculture and has taken a liking in growing tomatoes especially.
She was the manager at Groundswell Network Society in 2022 and in that time she more than tripled the tomato output from the greenhouse. She increased Groundswells crops and focused on using the principles of no-till and permaculture in the gardens.
She has always loved the outdoors and this is why she started working in agriculture about 10 years ago traveling from Quebec to the Similkameen valley to work on organic farms and orchards. She is presently undergoing a horticulture diploma at University of Guelph with a specialization in Greenhouse Management.
“Groundswell has helped me to develop my leadership skills and grow the bigger picture in farm and community garden operations.”