Friday, 14 July 2017 04:21

New community garden opens in Swift Current

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A ribbon cutting ceremony took place during the grand opening ceremony at the Janie and Helen Rempel Community Garden in Swift Current, July 9. From left to right, Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault, Rempel family representatives Leann Messer and Frank Rempel, and S3 Enterprises CEO Richelle Andreas. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place during the grand opening ceremony at the Janie and Helen Rempel Community Garden in Swift Current, July 9. From left to right, Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault, Rempel family representatives Leann Messer and Frank Rempel, and S3 Enterprises CEO Richelle Andreas.

A new community garden in Swift Current pays tribute to two former residents who enjoyed spending time in their own gardens.


The grand opening of the Janie and Helen Rempel Community Garden took place July 9. The garden is located next to the Chinook Parkway at 1150 Walker Street, just south of Chaplin Street East and west of 12th Avenue N.E.
Bob Sonntag, the owner and president of S3 Enterprises, donated the land for the community garden to the City of Swift Current. In addition the company took care of the cost to design and develop the garden, while the City will be responsible for the future maintenance and control of the site.
“What we’re standing on here is an absolute gift,” Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault said. “S3 provided all of this beautiful capital so that we can have this wonderful community garden. It’s located right here on a floodplain on the Swift Current Creek. ...  This is a great partnership between the City and a community business, and we’ll forever be thankful for the gift that they’ve given us and all of our residents, who have the opportunity now to garden where maybe they wouldn’t have done that before.”
The fenced facility has a large variety of irrigated garden boxes of different sizes. There are wheelchair accessible raised garden beds, a wash table for produce, a gazebo with seating facilities, washroom facilities and a parking lot.
“What we’ve got here is something that was planned out, thought out, purpose built and absolutely just went over the top to make it a beautiful spot in our community,” he said. “I encourage all of our residents just to come out for a walk here by the Swift Current Creek, just beside Elmwood grocery store. Come have a look. It’s a nice peaceful spot and nice to sit here in the gazebo as well.”
According to S3 Enterprises CEO Richelle Andreas, the company invested several hundred thousand dollars into the creation of the community garden. She dedicated the garden on behalf of Sonntag during the grand opening ceremony.
Helen Rempel was the wife of S3 Enterprises founder Frank Rempel, who was present at the ceremony,  and Janie Rempel Sonntag is their daughter. This family-owned agricultural manufacturing business was originally known as Rem Enterprises.
“I had the distinct honour of knowing both Janie and Helen Rempel,” Andreas said during her dedication. “I first met Helen when she was dressed in a denim work shirt and rubber boots and she had just come out of her garden. … She was the first employee of REM Manufacturing and a quiet strength that stood behind her husband Frank through the ups and downs of taking a small shop and turning it into a multinational business.”
Helen passed away in July 2015. Janie was diagnosed with lupus when she was about 30 years old.
She suffered a brain aneurism in March 2014 and she now lives in a care home in Cochrane, Alta., with impaired memory and mobility.
“Though Janie and Helen had several things in common, their love of their gardens stands out to me,” Andreas said. “In the summer Janie loved nothing more than to spend every minute outside, working in her yard with her dogs at her side. If you stopped to visit Helen in the summer, it was pointless to knock on the door of her house. She’d be outside, tending to her roses or working in her raised garden beds.”
She noted joy is key value of the corporate philosophy at S3 Enterprises and she hopes this community garden will bring happiness to the people who visit and use it.
“When I think of Janie and Helen working away at their gardens, I remember them with this incredible spark that lit them up from within,” she said. “Despite their circumstances, they found authentic joy in the beauty they helped to nurture. I believe that the Janie and Helen Rempel community garden will become one of the treasures that’s made Swift Current such a special place to live and raise a family, whether you use it to teach your children where food comes from, to showcase something beautiful, or as a place just to sit and collect your thoughts. It’s my hope that you’ll find joy here.”
According to Stuart Rempel the community garden’s dedication to his mother and sister means a lot to the family.
“I think it’s an emotional day for my dad,” he said after the ceremony. “My mom passed away two years ago yesterday, so the timing, the date, everything is emotional for him because he misses my mother dearly, but we’re happy for my mother because we think she’s enjoying year round roses where she is in heaven with her Lord and Saviour.”
The family wants people to enjoy the community garden and to plant their own flowers or vegetables there.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to grow something and to see something live that they planted,” he said.
The Janie and Helen Rempel Community Garden will be open annually from May 1 to Oct. 31. It will be open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. or dusk. The garden boxes can be rented from the City. The rental rates vary from $40 for 32 square feet to $240 for 256 square feet.

Read 831 times Last modified on Friday, 21 July 2017 10:24
Matthew Liebenberg

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