James Warman has worked seasonally at Spectrum Farms since its inception in 2014. (Submitted by Kootenay Region Association for Community Living)

James Warman has worked seasonally at Spectrum Farms since its inception in 2014. (Submitted by Kootenay Region Association for Community Living)

Year in Review: Spectrum Farms

Submitted by Kootenay Region Association for Community Living

Included in the mandate of the Kootenay Region Association for Community Living (KRACL), operating as Spectrum Farms, is to provide opportunities for employment and housing for low income individuals with disabilities. Thanks to incredibly forward thinking, progressive, energized, dedicated people, past and present, who volunteered hours and hours of their expertise, Spectrum Farms, located at 849 Erickson Road in Creston, is a successful conglomerate of valuable resources benefiting many people in the Creston Valley.

Employment

Being employed at Spectrum Farms has been a godsend to many people with special needs. Some of their duties includes baking cookies and scones in the bakery, working in the dehydrating section making soups and dried fruits, gardening, digging, planting, sowing, watering, weeding, picking and sorting a huge variety of vegetables, and apples, cherries, raspberries and other wonderful fruits, helping out in the store, raising chickens for eggs, and going to the Farmers’ Market.

Some of the positive outcomes for the workers include experiencing teamwork and learning new skills, resulting in incredible personal growth, heightened self-esteem, happier mental health, and improved physical health, all has been invaluable. This in itself has been a bonus and gives peace of mind, not only to the workers and staff, but also to their families and caregivers. And as we all know when one is able to work and earn money, the joy and satisfaction is priceless and rewards all of society!

Housing

The Cedar Linden housing project, completed in 2020, has nine beautiful one and two bedroom apartments, all currently rented out. Each unit is complete with appliances, air conditioning, washer and drier and keeping true to KRACL’s mandate, was built specifically to accommodate people of low income with disabilities. Many thanks to BC Housing and the Columbia Basin Trust for their generosity.

The renovated Archibald House houses four tenants and the Cottage houses one tenant. These houses provide the tenants with comfortable and affordable abodes, promoting independence and social skills needed to live a satisfying happy life.

One of the society’s bigger expenses this year was the purchase of a new furnace for Archibald House. The old banging and clanging furnace was probably the original one from when the house was built almost 100 years ago. The residents are grateful for the warmth and comfort of the new furnace and in turn it helps KRACL sustain affordable housing, an important segment of our mandate. Many thanks to Creston Valley Community Foundation for their generous grant!

Terje Munkerud and Rudy Mantik are two incredibly dedicated volunteers. They do the occasional well-being checks on some of the tenants, help and fix wherever they are needed, maintain the trees, haul away rubbish and recycling, do maintenance on the buildings, inside and out, and up! By up I’m talking way up… onto steep high roofs to remove the moss. I was in awe during the tour when I really became aware of how much work there is to caring and maintenance on the buildings and property.

Many thanks go to all the staff, board members, and other volunteers, who do much unseen work that happens not only outdoors, but also indoors. No matter how small the deeds, they are all needed, appreciated and just as important as those bigger labours of love.

Staff and Volunteers

Staff members include operations manager Serena Naeve and farm manager Dennis LaRose. Shelley and Laura in accounting and payroll. Garden staff James, Brandon, Mike and Jeremy. In the bakery, Darryl, Frances and Erin. In dehydration, Johan, Janice, and Kathryn. The chickens at Spectrum Farms are the most loved of any chicken ever and which I’ve heard lay the best eggs, thanks to Penny!

Volunteers include Angela in the garden, with Terje, Rudy, and Aaron. Brenda in the store. Sahnte in the bakery. And Christine in dehydration.

Moving Forward

Best wishes to Denis LaRose who is retiring after eight years as farm manager. Denis worked in the position since Spectrum Farm’s inception. Denis is highly respected and established a special bond with the garden workers. He listened to their suggestions, was fair in his decisions, and genuinely cared about the challenges the workers faced.

Best wishes to Serena Naeve who, after four years, is retiring from her position as operations manager at Spectrum Farms. Serena had the daunting task of keeping Spectrum Farms going after hard working founding volunteers Eric and Donna Kutzner moved on.

The KRACL Board of Directors is grateful for the care, compassion, and commitment that both Serena and Denis put forth in their time at Spectrum Farms.

Personal donations have made a big difference to the success of the projects and will continue to do so in the future! Donations may be made out to KRACL and mailed to 849 Erickson Road, Creston, BC V0B 1G3.

Spectrum Farms is looking forward to 2022 season! If you would like to be a part of future successes, please email kraclinfo@gmail.com, call 250-428-1892 or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/spectrumfarmscreston.

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AgricultureCreston Valley