Sandbaggers do great work

As I cycled past Mill Creek on my way to work the other day, I saw a sea of orange. I had to double take to see who they were and what they were doing.

Turns out they were a small army of Forest Service workers. Although trained to fight fires in the back country, they had been called upon to help remove the thousands of sand bags no longer needed since the water levels in many of our local creeks had started to lower.

I watched them form a hyper-efficient human chain to remove the bags from the creek bank and toss them into a huge pile that would eventually make its way into their blue pickup trucks.

It made me thankful for our support system here in Canada and especially in the Okanagan Valley. Not only had this hard-working crew been proactive and laid these sandbags in preparation for a potential flood, but there they were removing them and returning our beautiful city back to normal.

I have no doubt that they will be put back into action soon as we enter fire season.

A big hero's hug goes out to the men and women in orange for working behind the scenes and often out of sight to prevent disasters. High and dry, just how we like things here in the Valley.

Vine Time

It’s that time of year when sipping a glass of our favourite Okanagan Rose or Pinot Gris on a lake-view patio makes anyone feel like they have died and gone to heaven.

But as I walked through the vineyard on a recent visit to St. Hubertus and the Hatch wineries, I couldn’t help but wonder what really goes into growing, caring for and harvesting these amazing little grapes and where did our Okanagan wine origins come from?

We have all seen the vines, scraggly in winter and all of a sudden bursting with leaves and new growth in spring and then, of course, showcasing their juicy bounty as another epic Okanagan Valley summer comes to a close around wine festival season in October.

But in addition to the glamour of the steel-fermenting tanks, the grandeur of the oak barrels lined up in caves deep beneath the earth, what about the farming?

The story came to life recently when a friend shared a video of the history of Okanagan winemaking and the efforts of Father Pandosy and others to take a difficult and  specific form of agriculture and turn it into a thriving part of our local economy and position Canada on the international wine map.

From Anthony Von Mandl to Harry McWatters, the Stewart and Fitzpatrick families to the tireless efforts of small plot growers and those that harvest these juicy nuggets at their peak, we thank you for making our lazy summer afternoon conversations just a little bit better and making the Valley the No.1 wine region in Canada by a country mile.

Cross the street

Who hasn’t been held up in traffic lately? We all have the summer snarls on our mind with paving on Lakeshore, infrastructure projects around UBCO, traffic snarls on the bridge.

But the other morning I was really glad to wait in a line of 10 cars as I made my way from Kettle Valley, through Lower Mission to downtown.

Am I crazy, you ask?

No, I was waiting at two different school crosswalks that were being run by four capable Grade 6 students.

The kids were volunteering before school even started and were doing a really solid job of ensuring that cars were held back when a sea of students raced across (walking their bikes of course) along with parents chit chatting, dogs out for their morning stroll and even some indifferent high schoolers off to meet their bus or carpool.

Kids helping kids made me feel really proud and thankful that these students were learning to lead, serve and keep their community safe when they could be playing ball, sleeping in or eating three more pancakes.

So a huge hero's high five goes out across our region to the kids on the crosswalks and a big thank you for the nice work keeping their buddies safe and between the cones.


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About the Author

Richard James Deacon is a passionate philanthropist and volunteer and is dedicated to making a lasting impact on the community. Richard has been a director on a variety of not-for-profit boards across Canada, but is most proud of his role as the founder of 100 Kids Who Care Kelowna, as a co-creator of The Ron+Clair Deacon Leaders Pay It Forward Program, being a Scouts Canada Beaver leader and coaching his son in Central Okanagan youth soccer.

Richard, his beautiful wife, MaryAnn, and their young sons, Reston and Parker, along with golden retriever Buddy live in Kettle Valley and they love to travel the planet extensively. What they love most about Kelowna is that everybody says hi to each other and it still has that small town feel.

Contact Richard at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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