In 2021, Lacombe County introduced an Environmental Community Engagement Program. The three components of the program include a wetland education program, a resident environmental sustainability program, and an Environmental Stewardship Award. The Award is designed to recognize a Lacombe County resident who practices environmental conservation and sustainability on their property.
The inaugural recipient of this award was Lacombe County resident Sharon Wiebe. Sharon noted that the County’s educational programs were particularly helpful in developing her practices, specifically the Beekeeping 101 and Eco-buffer & Shelterbelt Workshop.
OTHER TOPICS COVERED THROUGH COUNTY WORKSHOPS SINCE 2017:
Winter Bird Feeding
Water Well Management
Mountain Pine Beetle
Tree Diseases and Insects
For the last decade, Sharon has been intentionally implementing environmental practices. In addition, she shares her property and knowledge with her community by way of a community garden. We want to share her story and inspire others to explore the implementation of similar practices.
One of the staples on Sharon’s property is the organic community garden. It allows for 10-12 shares per year and is maintained by the garden members who water it with water collected from rainfall-runoff. In 2021, despite the drought, they harvested 6000 pounds of produce! Each of these pounds was also grown organically, as pesticides are not used in the garden.
Sharon’s passion for environmental sustainability and education combine beautifully with her organic community garden. There may be 15-17 different families represented each season sharing in the garden. This is a perfect opportunity for Sharon to pass on her knowledge and experience to the next generation of gardeners – young and old.
In addition to the vegetables, Sharon’s fruit trees produce quite the bounty as well. The trees are surrounded by pollinating plants which results in happy bees as well as bugs and butterflies.
Not fully shown in the photos are the 150 trees that were planted in the spring of 2020 to replace fallen and windblown trees from the last few years of wind damage. These included lodgepole pine, white spruce, and maple trees.
Water conservation and reuse are made possible with the 12 300-gallon totes and multiple 45-gallon rain barrels around the property.
A healthy supply of compost is maintained with 2-3 piles going at any given time. The flock of chickens donates their waste to the effort, combined with kitchen scraps and any garden greens that come from the vegetables grown on the property.
Along with the beautiful fresh produce a garden can offer, Sharon also adds to the sustainability of her harvest by processing what she can to make use of it all year round. Cabbage becomes homemade sauerkraut and dried herbs, and medicinal plants become teas and tinctures.
The medicinal and herb gardens are as beautiful as they are practical!