Teaching children to ’embrace life’

Nine-year-old Tyler Horan plays on the swings at Jessy's Garden on June 2, 2019. Horan put his handprint on a large rock that he placed next to his sunflower seed. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The owners of a memorial garden just east of Prince Albert are feeling bittersweet a decade after its opening

Sunday morning started off with a downpour at Jessy’s Garden.

The farmer’s market is in memory of owners Mel and Bonny Sanderson’s youngest daughter Jessy-Leigh, who passed away on July 11, 2008 to suicide.

“I looked for the sunshine for her the first thing this morning,” said Bonny while looking up at the sky. “(Now) it’s coming out.”

The two were surrounded by kids happily chewing on watermelon or chasing chickens—it was their annual kids day where they set up several activities to celebrate the start of the growing season.

While they had face painting, bubbles, food and treat bags, the day focused on painting a rock and planting a sunflower.

Children paint rocks to place next to their sunflowers for Jessy’s Garden’s annual kids day on June 2, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“Sunflowers are Jessy’s favourite flower, so we plant a sunflower garden every year in memory of Jessy. All the kids in the community get to come and help us do it,” said Bonny.

As she helped the kids plant flowers that would soon block one of their three gardens, she told the kids they were planting life.

Jessy’s Garden owner Bonny Sanderson helps kids plant their sunflowers for their annual kids day on June 2, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

It took place from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. At lunchtime, they had about 35 kids stop by.

The event was free for families, although a donation box was set up where you were entered to win prizes.

Bonny and Mel started the garden a year after Jessy’s passing—this year marks its 10th anniversary.

“It’s bittersweet. I’m glad that we made 10 years in doing this, but it means she’s been gone that long. It is a bittersweet year for us, but you just keep going,” said Bonny.

Jessy’s Garden provides organic produce to people of all incomes. If anyone cannot pay for the food, Bonny and Mel will give it to them in return for their volunteer work.

The garden is located 20 kilometres outside of Prince Albert on Highway 302 East.