Historic site in Keremeos gets much-needed cash influx

Help for historic site

A historic site in Keremeos is grateful and excited to be a recipient of new provincial funding, especially after a difficult year that kept their doors closed during the pandemic.

The Grist Mill and Gardens has been awarded $150,000 as part of the Heritage Infrastructure stream of the Province of BC’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program, specifically to restore and improve the heritage gardens and landscaping on the site, returning them to their original status as one of the best heritage gardens in Canada.

“Although this heritage site is best-known for its unique heritage buildings, such as Western Canada’s only working heritage waterwheel-powered flour mill, it has also played a pivotal role in the heritage garden interpretation, seed-saving and research movement over the last 30 years,” said Chris Mathieson, site general manager.

“One of the site’s first interpreters, Sharon Rempel, was a true visionary who saw, before many others, the value in collecting and preserving endangered and historically-important fruit, vegetable and ornamental plants. It’s not an understatement to say that her work in these gardens, which wasn’t even her main job, has had a massive influence on the modern popularity of artisanal bakeries that are using heritage grains, on the seed companies that are reintroducing heritage varieties for sale and now an apple cider industry specifically interested in the sorts of heritage apple varieties she collected for this site.”

The funding will be used over the next 12 to 18 months to re-landscape much of the site, with an aim of highlighting heritage seed research and collection done on site.

They will also be improving outdoor amenities by adding a multipurpose outdoor gazebo, interpretive signage and more.

More specifics will be shared later this spring and summer at a series of community engagement events held online and in the site’s gardens, as local COVID restrictions allow at the time.

The funds come after the mill had to be closed to the public for most of 2020, effectively cutting off its revenue stream.

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