Kirsten Rudolph has done a lot of things to help the community.
Volunteering for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), running the figure skating club, starting and running the local Far Fletched Archery Club, as a member of the Fort St. James Volunteer Fire Department and other activities.
But now Rudolph is helping organizations, businesses and individuals in the community as the District of Fort St. James’ grant writer.
She researches funding opportunities for local groups, and lets people know what funding may be available for them, helps the group or individual apply and then follows up with them to ensure everything follows through properly and the requirements are being met.
The service is offered by the district to help the community build on some of the great energy and ideas people in the community have, but may not have the funds to make them a reality.
Her position is paid for by both the local district and through funding provided by the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
While Rudolph is only part time, she took over from the previous grant writer Kandace Kerr, who had already established the importance of the role for the community, and so as soon as she began, Rudolph said she started getting calls.
“There’s a lot of great projects out there, we just need to find the funding for them to make them happen,” said Rudolph.
Already, since she started in September, Rudolph has seen some projects in the works she is quite excited about.
One is the Mt. Pope Greenhouse project she’s working on with the Nak’azdli Band.
It is a $300,000 project to set up a commercial greenhouse here and would be a $500,000 project over the next five years to maintain it.
“It should be neat to have a community greenhouse here in Fort St. James and see if it is actually viable,” explained Rudolph.
She said she was pretty excited to be brought in on the project, which makes sense if you know Rudolph and her husband, Philip Smith, run Sif’s Grove Greenhouse.
Their motto is: “if we can’t eat it, drink it or smoke it, we don’t grow it,” making sure to clarify the smoking refers to sweet grass, a cleansing and pleasant-smelling grass often used by First Nations.
The couple specialize in seed potatoes, rare and heirloom herbs and hardy or rare tomatoes.
The couple moved from Summerland in the Okanangan in 2000, where they could grow anything, and where Rudolph was working as a freelance commercial artist and managing a wine shop.
She was learning about growing the grapes while she was there, and her interest in growing food was already established, so when they moved to the Fort for Smith’s work, it was a way to not only continue on but also to produce more of the good food she loved, which could sometimes be harder to come by here.
Rudolph said she and her husband like to eat organically when they can and as close to home as possible as well.
They also enjoy sharing their knowledge with the community, putting on free one and a half hour classes on gardening in the summer months.
“We want to get everybody to have a garden in their backyard, that’s the goal,” said Rudolph.
She is currently juggling being her new job with her many other roles, including being a lieutenant in the local volunteer fire department, and mother of her and Smith’s son Mac, now 18 years old.