Plant nursery closes for good

HEAVY SNOWFALL caused headaches for residents this year and for one Braun’s Island resident, it has closed her business after 25 years.

RITA HOEKSTRA sits in one of her greenhouses with her granddaughter Krystal Hoekstra.

HEAVY SNOWFALL caused a lot of headaches for residents this year and for one Braun’s Island resident, it has closed her bedding plant nursery after more than 20 years.

Rita Hoekstra has called it quits for her Sage and Sunflower bedding plant nursery after the snow collapsed the roofs on her five greenhouses.

For her customers, that means the business won’t be opening this year and her place, which has been a gathering place to gain valuable gardening information, learn northern growing techniques, socialize and share gardening stories will be gone too.

She wants to tell her customers, who come from Stewart, Kitimat and Prince Rupert, that she won’t be selling bedding plants anymore.

“No, I’m 74 and you know this is it,” said Hoekstra. “The last few years have been hard on me. a lot of times it was seven days a week and sometimes 10 or 12 hours a day.”

She will still do her own gardening.

“I guess I should’ve retired a long time ago. I have a few things in my seedling house for my own garden. My son wants to rebuild one for ourselves and grow tomatoes and cucumbers,” she said.

Her place became a gathering place for more than 35 volunteers who helped with a work bee spring cleanup April 15.

Friend Kim Ward, who helped out with the cleanup, said with so many people helping, the work was done easily.

Hoekstra provided a sausage roast and her homemade apple and blueberry pies to volunteers, said Ward.

“Some of the volunteers said they would work for the pie alone,” said Ward. “It was a powerful experience to be a part of this huge community work bee. Everyone pitched a hand into cleaning up the collapsed green houses.”