(Photo/Gellatly Nut Farm Society)

(Photo/Gellatly Nut Farm Society)

Woman who was driving force behind West Kelowna’s Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park passes

Ferne Jean died last week at aged 94

The woman responsible for helping to create Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park has passed away.

Ferne Jean died last week at aged 94. She would have been 95 on Good Friday, April 15.

Jean lived on Gellatly Farm in the 1940s when it was owned by her uncle Jack. She volunteered there every year after it became a park in 2000. West Kelowna Councillor Doug Findlater knew Jean for many years.

“Feisty, feisty, feisty is the way to describe the personality,” said Findlater. “She was a fighter. A long-time pioneer family, the Gellatly family.”

Findlater said Jean stepped into the fray when there were proposals for redevelopment in the area of the Gellatly Nut Farm in the early 1990s.

“There was a community movement afoot, including Ferne, to save the nut farm and that happened with the help of the regional district,” said Findlater.

Jean and other volunteers opened a store on the farm, selling nuts to the public. The store is still open and raises about $25,000 a year to maintain the orchards and buildings.

“That business model, and in fact the business, was Ferne’s baby,” added Findlater. “She’s going to be greatly missed at the farm. All the volunteers really looked to Ferne for leadership and direction. The nut farm is a gem in our community and a gem in the Central Okanagan.”

Her obituary states that Jean was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship by the West Kelowna Daybreak Rotary Club in 2021, with the comment that “without Jean’s passion and energy, the Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park, enjoyed by so many throughout the seasons, might have vanished forever.”

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