Helen McAllister (left) came to Fernie in 2002; Jennifer Heath (right) came to Fernie in 2005. As relative newcomers to the town, they began peeking over the fences of their neighbors in the Elk Valley in southwestern B.C., gaining inspiration and advice from avid gardeners who generously shared their knowledge, particularly regarding the challenges of growing food in a cold climate. Originally from Newfoundland, Heath spent a year studying organic farming at Linnea Farm on Cortes. Described as a life-long learner, she is a school teacher who previously worked as a massage therapist and a graphic designer. McAllister is a paediatric physiotherapist from Ontario. Together they first put together a multimedia exhibit called Down to Earth: Elk Valley Gardens and Their Keepers that was showcased at the Arts Station in Fernie in 2010. Thirteen local gardeners are featured, along with their growing tips, in Heath and McAllister's Down to Earth: Cold-Climate Gardens & Their Keepers (Oolichan $29.95). It's a joyful, well-illustrated celebration on family gardens and the concept of sharing knowledge and recipes. "No matter if you are a new gardener," says Calgary-born Dawn Deydey, "or someone who has been doing it for forty years, you are always learning." 978-0-88982-302-0


Down to Earth: Cold-Climate Gardens & Their Keepers (Oolichan 2014). $29.95 978-0-88982-302-0

[BCBW 2014]