Local Fort St. James woman inspires through her gardening

Amongst the many different strong women I have met in this community is one who recently inspired me.

She turned her pain into power, and now wears her garden on her sleeve to give back to the community.

It also is Nutrition month and I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about Sif’s Grove and it’s owner, Kirstin Rudolph.

Halijo Webster

Special to The Courier

Just last week was a Celebration of International Woman’s Day.

Amongst the many different strong women I have met in this community is one who recently inspired me.

She turned her pain into power, and now wears her garden on her sleeve to give back to the community.

It also is Nutrition month and I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about Sif’s Grove and it’s owner, Kirstin Rudolph.

She is someone I would refer to as a master gardener, a positive role model for youth, women, and men in the community.

Rudolph spoke of abuse in a past relationship.

“He didn’t get abusive until I moved in, and then it was just the mental abuse,” described Rudolph.  “He used to call me down – tell me I was stupid, fat, ugly, the usual.  When he hit me, he always made sure he hit me where the bruises didn’t show.”

“When I realized things would not change, and that I just didn’t like what was going on, I left,” explained Rudolph.

There is much more to the story of course. When Kirstin shared with me about her previous abusive relationship, I would never have guessed at what she had been through because of the love and beauty that surrounds her.

I was honoured and empowered after her sharing this with me given my own experiences that I am still struggling with. Each time a woman speaks out on violence in a relationship, another one is listening.

When I visit Sif’s Grove in the full bloom of the season, the last thing that comes to mind is violence or being a victim.

I feel a sense of Zen and oneness with the earth. I feel safe and alive and as though the surroundings are the result of love, attention and passion for the earth.

“We are a small greenhouse and nursery that specializes in rare and heirloom tomatoes, gourmet seed potatoes, hardy veggie starts, and herbs of all kinds -culinary and medicinal,” explains Rudolph. “If we can’t eat it, drink it, or smoke it, we don’t grow it.”

Sif’s has four working greenhouses that are full of a gardeners dream. Kristin’s passion and knowledge naturally ripple out of her about what can grow in our short months of growing season here in the North, and what does not do so well.

“We don’t really have the heat, but, we do have the daylight and that’s what we work with,” Rudolph tells me as we sip tea in her dining room next to the baby tomatoes.

I can only describe her knowledge of gardening as encyclopedic, you cannot help but learn something.

Rudolph can give you the complete description, the function, as well as the origin and metamorphosis due to weather changes of all that grows there.

“We always have on-going garden trials -they help us determine what grows best in our climate and what does not do so well here,” says Rudolph. “This year we are trying out the red carrots, four new tomato varieties, apricots, and Sea Buchthorn, which is a wonderful tasting berry that has great healing agents and properties that can be utilized in body products.”

Sif’s is open to the public offering relaxed holistic “tea party” informational gatherings on anything gardening with extra focus on organic. No pesticides or cross contamination.

These free walk-throughs, needless to say,  include a tour of the greenhouses for more gardening and greenhouse insight. Bring a note book!

From May to June Sif’s offers free workshops every Saturday morning at 10 a.m., though some materials might require a small donation.

Later in August, classes on preserving the harvest, herbal medicines, and cooking with herbs are also offered.

Rudolph will also be working on a new garden shop, built mostly from recycled materials, featuring furniture by local craftsman Jim Barnes, as well as gardening tools and natural products made in Sif’s Grove.

Sif’s goal is to teach people how to grow there own food in the space they have, no matter how small, and to get back in touch with the earth again.

“We’re getting so busy with our own lives we are forgetting the importance of sustainable living and growing our own foods, plus, it’s kind of a good way to justify playing in the dirt,” says Rudolph.

Sif’s always welcomes volunteers wishing to learn more about getting back to the basics of growing your own food.

For more information and greenhouse hours contact  Kirstin Rudolph at sifsgrove@fsjames.com or call 250 996 7131.

You can also check out Sif’s Grove on Facebook at Sif’s Grove Greenhouse & Garden

 

Kirstin Rudolph is another one of my “Sheroes” and a community role model, especially for women who are in, or contemplating leaving their abusive relationships. Kirstin Rudolph is now happily married to Phillip, with whom she has a teenage son.