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Sturgeon County Bounty Blog


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Art and a Country Garden : Out and About with The Wheelbarrow Gardener Leanne
Today's blog is brought to you by Sturgeon County local Valerie Loseth, The Wheelbarrow Gardener. Valerie makes the world a more beautiful place, from backyards to weddings to planters, to workshops and more!

Judy Schafers and her husband Shane own a farm just west of Villeneuve, and even though she is extremely busy wearing the many hats of a mother, business owner and farmer’s wife, Judy has a passion for painting and gardening.  A self-taught artist, Judy has been painting for over 38 years, her paintings are reflective of growing up in a rural setting and having uninterrupted time to explore the outdoors, examining and thinking about the world around her. 

As with most artists, inspiration for their craft comes from a multitude of different sources. For Judy, her inspiration comes from childhood experiences, living her whole life on a farm and her gardens.  “Mother Nature is my greatest influence. It is a fun learning experience to get down on the ground and see what's there, just as much as it is to stare off into the distance, to really look at the shapes and colors that make up the sky and the land. I love it when the light does its magic on seemingly mundane objects such as rocks and leaves and the ever- changing vista of the Alberta landscape. I could go on and on about inspiration! It is everywhere, actually, you just have to pay attention and be open to different ways of seeing things.” explained Judy. 

Designing and growing a flowerbed as a youngster, having a mother and grandmother who were flower lovers and a visit to Buchard Gardens over 27 years ago were catalysts in Judy’s desire to create some gardens on the farm.  “I loved the idea of manifesting a dream/vision and the nurturing part of it. Loved the idea of creating a place all my own, a separate world that I could get lost in and to find gorgeousness every time I turned around”.  She stated that, “The biggest challenge is in learning to let the garden have a say in how it evolves, letting go of the idea that I need to control it all. Therefore, many things have planted themselves where they want, or died prematurely, and I just let much of it be. The worst mistakes I made were planting some things too close together... and bringing home that horribly invasive creeping belleflower that looked so cute and purple in an abandoned farm site.... they are just as difficult to manage as quack grass and thistle”.

Having spent some time helping Judy maintain her gardens, I was curious if she had a favorite spot. “I don't really have a favorite spot, I like most of it, and each section has a different flavor/ feeling attached to it. Some of it is more formal, some more whimsical, some nostalgic. There are items that I have collected that have been or will be used in my paintings. I try to group items together that make sense so that the yard flows and doesn't cause a feeling of confusion. This will be an ongoing tweaking process, but that is the goal. I don't favor some of the spots behind the veggie garden.  My new thing is that I am learning/working to build a food forest in the back yard, and the garden has been no-till for 3 years now. I am planting fruit trees, shrubs and perennial veggies among other things. That's a whole other story, lol!”

Judy noticed how so many of her paintings were inspired by the gardens in general and the flowers and plants that grow there. She began to see how they fed/influenced one another and because of that, it seemed natural to have an art show that combined her two biggest passions. Judy realized that these forms of creative expression should be shared with a greater audience, and with a suggestion from a friend who hosted something similar then moved away, Art and the Country Garden came to fruition. 

In her second year Judy has come to the realization that, “ Art and a Country Garden is not only an Open Studio Art Show and Sale, but a gift to those of my collectors and fans as well as to the community. It is my hope that they enjoy the art of the paintings and the gardens, enjoy a couple of hours in a nice setting away from some of the hustle and bustle, make conversation and connections with others that attend (as well as me and my family) and to come away inspired. There will also be good food!”

I asked Judy what a successful Art and a Country Garden would look like? “It will be successful if lots of people attend, that each person feels welcomed, and leaves feeling inspired and blessed that they took the time to come out. (Of course selling lots of art will help me to be able to keep doing this, and I hope to feel supported by the community as well)

My greater aim is to bring attention to and create more positivity and beauty into the world. I know there are lots of us doing that, but it seems like our society needs all of the good stuff it can get! I really hope that what I do can help, even just a wee bit, to foster a much-needed change in the world. I strongly believe that every bit counts and we might never know how what we do impacts others, for better or worse. It would be satisfying to discover at the end of my days, that I was more frequently contributing to the positive side.”

We are so blessed to have such artistic / creative people willing to give of there time and talents here in Sturgeon County, I hope that on July 9 & 10 you will make a trip out to visit Judy, her paintings and her beautiful gardens.

If you would like more information here is a link to the event on her website.

*all photos courtesy of Judy Schafers

If you know of someone who has a farm, garden or something special that is agricultural based that I could highlight in a blog please contact me. 

Valerie Loseth

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram as The Wheelbarrow Gardener or check out my website at

Dinos and Lunch and Golf, Oh My! Leanne

This week I had the pleasure of visiting two terrific Sturgeon County businesses to find out more about their exciting upcoming event on Monday, July 21 2014. Goose Hummock Golf Resort and Jurassic Forest have teamed up with Taste of Edmonton to offer two delicious and fun Culinary Adventures!

Cheff Seetoo

This year, Taste of Edmonton has added some great mini-get-aways to their already packed roster of foodie events that take place in downtown Edmonton, at Sir Winston Churchill Square from July 17-26, 2014. On Monday, you will have the opportunity to hop on a shuttle bus at Sir Winston Churchill Square and take a relaxing ride out to the country and either be a palaeontologist or golfer for the day. 

Each day also includes a tasty lunch prepared by Chef Clark Seetoo and Chef James Seetoo. These gentlemen have been secretive about what they are up to, but did hint that prime rib would be featured, along with many other fresh, local foods and ingredients.

Goose HummockThe Taste of Golf Culinary Adventure includes a shuttle to the course, a tour of the Goose Hummock facility, 9 holes of golf and delicious lunch. This adventure also gives you an all-inclusive ticket into Sip 'n Savour that evening at Taste of Edmonton. Click here if you would like to buy tickets for this adventure!

Goose Hummock Golf Resort is an excellent venue for weddings, corporate events or golf tournaments. Visit their website for more information and pricing.

Jurassic ForestThe Taste of Jurassic Culinary Adventure is a family friendly day filled with life sized dinosaurs, guided tours, fun at the playground, and a fabulous lunch. Each participant will receive 10 Taste tickets to enjoy at Taste of Edmonton after the adventure. Click here if you would like to buy tickets for this adventure!

These tours are a great way to come out and experience Sturgeon County and see the great attractions that are here! 

Don't forget to check out Jurassic Forest on August 16th and 17th, Dinosaur George, Dinosaur Enthusiast and animal behaviourist will be there to teach you all about our prehistoric friends! There will be lots happening all summer out at Jurassic Forest, take the family out for some fun! 

Jurassic Forest Gift Shop

For more information:

Goose Hummock Golf Resort

Jurassic Forest


Get a Backstage Pass to Meet Your Farmer! Leanne

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity of attending the Growing Rural Tourism Conference in Camrose, Alberta. This annual conference connects groups that have embraced innovative tourism strategies and partnerships, and those looking at how they might bring new sources of revenue and employment to their own communities. I met some great new people, collected heaps of information, enjoyed a tour of Camrose and had my imagination sparked with many new tourism possibilities!

I have been working on plans to add more events to our Sturgeon County Bounty roster. I need events that are fun, and show off all of the hard work our farmers do- from growing food, to raising animals, to operating a tourism destination on their working farm. Well, did I ever find the perfect fit- Alberta Open Farm Days! This is a province-wide two-day event that gives Albertans an opportunity to experience the farm and understand where their food comes from. As explained in the conference workshop hosted by Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation, Open Farm Days is a "backstage pass to meet the farmer, experience Ag-tourism in Alberta and taste local foods direct from the producer." I thought this was a great description... our farmers are definitely rock stars, and who wouldn't want an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of what they do every day?!

The demand is identified: People from urban areas want to visit the country, experience life outdoors, learn where their food comes from, buy some of that fresh food, pet some animals and ask the farmers questions. Alberta Open Farm Days offers just that! The event takes place over two days, day one- August 23, 2014 is focusing on culinary events, where talented chefs will team up with local producers to create farm-to-table dishes. The following day, August 24, 2014 will be a province-wide open house for participating farms. All farms that choose to have an open house day will be listed on our website, as well as the Alberta Open Farm Days website and directory.

Last year Sturgeon County had two farms that participated, this year let's make it more! This is a great opportunity to connect with more visitors and potential customers. I will work with you to coordinate a culinary event, driving tour and promotion of your farm - call me today 780-939-8296 and get on board!


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Sturgeon County Bounty is a Sturgeon County Economic Development initiative, aimed at providing local producers, chefs and processors with an opportunity to promote and expand value-added agriculture in the region. more

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