Burnett: Prairie soil quality hard to beat

Aren’t family reunions fun! We just had one at a farm near Beiseker in Alberta.

Aren’t family reunions fun! We just had one at a farm near Beiseker in Alberta.

This was about the sixth time the descendants of Balthaser and Julianna Schleppe have gathered together to celebrate their heritage.

This year’s event is something we will cherish the memory of forever.

The first reunion was held at the original Schleppe farm in 1982 and then the venue was changed to the Reding farm just down the road for later get-togethers in 1988, 1992 and 2003.

In 1996, we invited all the clan to come to the Okanagan as we gathered at the Cedar Creek Scout camp.

That reunion was a great success, but the ambience of a prairie farm is pretty hard to beat.

For two days and three nights, we were entertained with cattle roping contests, horse shoe pitching, barnyard golf and cow pie bingo.

We also got a chance to ride the mechanical bull and check out all the antique farm machinery.

Each day we were fed fantastic meals and in the evening there was karaoke and a talent contest.

So how do I fit into all this? My mother-in-law Anne Stolz, is one of the Schleppe’s nine children.

But is goes deeper than that. My grandparents farmed in Weyburn, Sask., from about 1899 to 1922 before moving to Kelowna.

When I was born in 1950, Grandma and Grandpa Burnett were still alive. Along with my dad and mom, my grandparents ran the farming operation on Ethel Street across from Cottonwoods Extended Care.

Yes, what most of you remember as a garden centre flower shop and nursery operation was a farm which grew potatoes, corn, chickens, pigs and dairy cattle.

So no wonder when I get out to that farm in Beiseker it feels like I just went back in time to my childhood.

What makes it even more incredible is Robin Redding still farms about 40 of his 900 acres with a 1918 Case steam tractor and several teams of horses.

The threshing machine he uses was used by his father as well as the other equipment that is still in perfect working condition.

I plan on going out there this October for a week to help with the harvest so I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

I would love to do one thing when go out there and that is drive out with a B train dump truck and bring back a load of that beautiful black Alberta farm soil.

It truly is something to see. When folks from the prairies complain about the soil we have in most parts of the Okanagan, I now understand why!


I would like to congratulate all the winners in the Green Thumb Awards.

In particular, Judy Bell for being named gardener of the year, Darla Wiebe for her contribution to gardening and Helen Serwa for having the best vegetable garden.

Helen just happens to be 100 years old—inspirational to say the least.



Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 News Talk Sports Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m.


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