The agriculture history of Kelowna has been taken outdoors in a new initiative by the city and Kelowna Museums Society.
Called Laurel Square, the interactive display set up adjacent to the Laurel Packinghouse has created another outdoor gathering point for people who work and visit the city’s Cultural District.
Linda Digby, executive director of the Kelowna Museums Society, said the new civic space has already drawn an engagement from the public and nearby schools for its interpretive features and green space atmosphere.
“The first time I saw children come to the space and immediately begin engaging with its various elements, it was just exactly what we dreamed they would do so I was very happy to see that,” Digby said.
The idea for Laurel Square began back in January 2016. The available space had sat vacant but was envisioned as an outdoor green space with historic content when the packinghouse underwent a major renovation.
There was no money to complete that aspect of the renovation at the time, but society funding to assist with completing the outdoor project became available four years ago.
“So we met with city officials and worked together, envisioning a space that would be playful and creative and innovative, especially for children and families,” said Digby.
The agricultural history display followed a theme of past, present, future, complete with exhibits, an irrigation flume that children can use to direct water flow, and a garden that features plants indigenous to the Central Okanagan identified by working with Westbank First Nation elders.
Digby said one of the original ideas was to plant fruit trees and create a mini-orchard but that idea was not deemed practical upon closer consideration.
Completing Laurel Square, which also received funding assistance from a BC Gaming grant, was part of the society’s five-year strategic plan, which is currently being updated.
One of the next major initiatives targeted for the packinghouse is a re-imagining of the historic displays inside the facility, located at the corner of Cawston and Ellis, next to the Rotary Centre for the Arts.