Volunteer Charlotte James plants irises in the Potato House garden Tuesday morning. James and others are helping to prepare the site in advance of Friday’s open house and graduation ceremonies for practicum students.

Volunteer Charlotte James plants irises in the Potato House garden Tuesday morning. James and others are helping to prepare the site in advance of Friday’s open house and graduation ceremonies for practicum students.

Potato House open house this Friday

Work on the Potato House has been clipping along at an amazing pace since the old house at 49 Borland Street was acquired by the Potato House Sustainability Society earlier this spring.

Work on the Potato House has been clipping along at an amazing pace since the old house at 49 Borland Street was acquired by the Potato House Sustainability Society earlier this spring.

In early spring volunteers got together for a pruning bee to teach young ‘uns about proper maintenance of the apple trees, grape vines and rose bushes. Using ropes and pruners the task was accomplished.

A general clean-up of the grounds continued throughout the spring.

Black plastic was laid over the grass for a few weeks to kill the grass and prepare the site for a community garden that will replace the one at the Child Development Centre on Second Avenue.

The gardens there are being removed to accommodate the CDC’s expansion project.

Things really started hopping at the Potato House this summer, with help from eight students working there on a practicum. In mid-July the society had a crew of workers come in from the Williams Lake employment services company, Horton Ventures Inc. who have been working under the guidance of program facilitator Nancy Robinson.

The students have removed the unusable wood from the third of an acre property.

They planted the garden with plants donated by the community gardens at the Child Development Centre.

They also participated in a weeding workshop with Barb Scharf of Hill Farm Nursery at Macalister, who helped the group to identify noxious weeds.

The students also helped with general cleaning and repairs to the house itself.

There is a new toilet upstairs to accommodate visitors and volunteers.

After the old carpet was removed we were also happy to discover hardwood floors in very good condition.

This Friday, Aug. 12 the Potato House Sustainable Community Society is hosting a graduation ceremony for the students, to recognize their contributions. The event takes place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Chuck Wagon Grill will be on site for visitors to purchase lunch if they like.

The Potato House is attracting quite a bit of attention.

Passersby give the thumbs up and ask questions such as: What are you doing? — Is it going to be a restaurant? — Where do you buy a membership? — Good morning (with a smile) — Put my number on your list — Can I get some apple wood?

The Potato House Project is a tribute to Alcina and Manuel Quintelas who owned the house for 57 years and planted a huge garden of potatoes each year.

The house was originally built about 75 years ago by the Borkowski family.

Three local photographers have been documenting the progress of restoring the old house and grounds. Some of the photography is being done in the pinhole camera style of photography and time lapse photography.

The Potato House Society and project is run entirely by volunteers, so membership fees and volunteer help are important.

If you would like to be involved and meet new people, bring a pair of work gloves and a rake down to the house as most days one of the volunteers is there. Even if you have an hour to give it would be greatly appreciated.

Through the summer and fall the Potato House Sustainability Society will also have a  booth set up at the Saturday Farmer’s Market each week in Gardner Park next to City Hall between about 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Volunteers will be selling and swapping used books on gardening, nature, sustainability, anything green, travel as well as books by local authors and books for children as well as a few general interest books.

If you have used books on these topics that you would like to donate please bring them along.

Gardening equipment and agricultural magazines can also be exchanged there.

Proceeds from the book sales help with the restoration work at the Potato House

Individual memberships are $20; business memberships are $100. Potato House shirts are also available at Dandelion Living for $20.

To learn more about the organization or purchase a membership contact Kim Van Diest at 250-267-7596; Chris Hornby at 250-392-2271; Pat Teti at 250-398-5318; Richard Case at 250-243-2420; or society president Mary Forbes at 250-855-8443 or at www.dandelioninterp.ca