Healing the land one plant at a time

Growing food organically and keeping the land healthy is what Fred Fortier steadfastly believes in

Organic gardener Fred Fortier beside one of his two new Harnois greenhouses that he is erecting on his Dunn Lake Road property.

Organic gardener Fred Fortier beside one of his two new Harnois greenhouses that he is erecting on his Dunn Lake Road property.

Growing food organically and keeping the land healthy is what Chu Chua resident Fred Fortier steadfastly believes in.  With some 30 years of experience in organic gardening and worm composting under his belt, Fortier is now taking his expertise  a step further by opening a commercial organic greenhouse, nursery and market garden at his property on Dunn Lake Road.

“We’re currently building two 96×30 Harnois greenhouses,” said Fortier, “I plan to grow cukes, tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, and some other plants as well – all organic.  The veggies will be ready around September, with the cukes ready in August.”

Fortier ordered the greenhouses from Quebec, noting they are ideal for his organic gardening program.

Greenhouses are one of the most sustainable ways of producing vegetables, they provide complete control over the environment, and they make it possible for the grower to maximize the use of essential resources such as water and energy while also minimizing the ecological footprint of the crops.  Harnois greenhouses are designed to make the most of natural ventilation, and to keep energy consumption to a minimum.

Fortier explained that plants in the greenhouse will be grown from bags of soil, and he is planning to add a propagation* room to the facility.

Fortier says they also has a nursery on the property with all plants indigenous to the North Thompson Valley.

“The trees are ideal for restoration purposes,” said Fortier, “I’m not interested in growing invasive species,.”

Trees for sale in the nursery currently include Colorado blues and greens, spruce, redwood cedar, silax and cottonwood, with more species to be planted by fall.  The young trees range in height from six inches to four feet, some potted and some in sawdust.

The market garden will be producing products such as garlic, strawberries, raspberries and even kiwifruit.

“We have an abundance of water here on the property,” said Fortier, “We have an artesian well and have so much water available that we plan to create a pond where in the future we will raise trout and other fish.”

Fortier says the name for this new venture will be Uncle Freddy’s.

How soon will Uncle Freddy’s be open for business?

“We will probably be up and running by May 1, we are just finishing up the water and electrical,” said Fortier, “We also plan to have an open house sometime in July.”

Fortier commented that for those who would like to learn more about organic gardening he will be facilitating three free sessions on that subject at his facility, with the first session on May 8, having a 10 a.m. start.  Plans for facilitating a hot house development workshop are also being considered for later this year.

Fortier himself is hoping to be enrolled in the Master Gardener program at Thompson Rivers University this fall.

If you would like more information on the upcoming free organic gardening sessions you can contact Fred Fortier at 250-819-0320, or by emailing: fred4tr@gmail.com

*Propagation of plants refers to producing more plants by dividing, grafting, or taking cuttings from existing plants.