CHESTERMERE – You know so many times in daily life you may walk by and never stop to smell the flowers (roses) is how the saying goes. Life gets busy and you just don’t make the time to enjoy the little things around us each and every day. Some things are right under your nose and you didn’t even notice them. Take the flowers in the pots and in the flower beds all over town (I don’t mean take them I mean notice them).
Ken Jackson is the Parks Supervisor for Chestermere. He has been with the town for just 17 months but in that short time he has made his mark in some wonderful ways. Ken is the first person to admit he doesn’t do this alone. He gives his mostly seasonal staff of 30 some very high praise for keeping Chestermere (the Alberta Oasis) beautiful. There are 8 full time staff that plant the seeds to start the process of making things look absolutely beautiful all summer long. The town held on to a 3000 square foot greenhouse where Ken’s full time staff crank up the heat sometime in February. It chills me to think of February this time of year. Anyway, the greenhouse warms up and the seeds are planted for some 65 pots and 70 hanging baskets that are distributed throughout the town and are planted in the spring. Have you noticed them? Perhaps just like the banners that hang on some of the streetlights, you see them but just didn’t really take note of them. Did you know Ken and his staff look after about 35 parks within Chestermere? “John Peake Park is perhaps the most challenging and also the most rewarding of all the parks in Chestermere” says Ken. The seasonal gardeners start in May and leave the summer employment at the beginning of the school year. Most of the seasonal staff are local kids going to university and they often continue to come back every year for a summer job; and Ken is elated to get them back each year. He says “it sure saves on the budget if you don’t have to train new staff every year”. “They step in and know what to do from day one” he adds. In addition to the staff that water, mow and look after all of the flower beds, there are 6 others that take care of the lake. These folks drive the “Harvester”, a barge and a truck to pick up the weeds that have been collected either from the lake residents or from the three harvesters. If you can picture this, (and you may have seen them out on the water); a floating tractor looking machine with a backhoe bucket that has teeth like a hedge trimmer, a conveyor belt in the middle of the machine that is sandwiched between two paddlewheels and you have a weed harvester. Ahuh! For 10 weeks the three harvesters feast on the weeds and amass enough weeds to empty the bin a couple times each day per machine.
All of the weeds collected are brought in to the town yard, piled up and turned over (rotated) for a year. This makes some awesome compost that they use in the pots and flower beds. All of the branches from trimmed trees are shredded and put in the mix as well, “We are very environmentally conscientious here” Ken says. Ken and his staff replace and plant about 150 trees and 200 bushes every year.
So the summer season is coming to an end and the seasonal staff will return to school while the remaining staff carries on and start planning for the upcoming winter activities. Those remaining will be involved in snow removal on the 25 km. of pathways and other areas like the Town Office, Library and Police/Fire station complex. But come February it all begins again with a seed here and a seed there and a seed there……..
Thank you Ken and all his staff for making, and keeping Chestermere the Alberta Oasis. Now people, stop and smell those flowers while you still have a chance.