By Barbara Thrasher


“Everyone has the right to healthy food. It’s our first line of defence against costly and debilitating illness,” says Groundswell board member Michele Wall. “It is a sad state when a head of lettuce isn’t affordable. Ensuring organic food through local gardening has become the responsibility of everyone.” 

Here’s your chance to support this important issue while making your holiday season a little brighter – Mark your calendar: Dec 15/16 and Dec 22/23 – the first annual Garden of Lights – four glamorous holiday evenings showcasing music, food, and festivities under 10,000 twinkling lights at Groundswell Community Greenhouse and Gardens in Invermere, a non-profit run by volunteers.  Yes, this is the group that grew eight community garden beds into 50, partnered with Home Hardware to teach 245 JA Laird Elementary students how to grow food and donate it to the Columbia Valley Food Bank, tripled the tomato production for many happy home gardeners, and keeping bears safe with the Apple Rescue program, all while educating on permaculture and living soil; treating the earth gently while it provides for us. 

Many in the valley have seen how quickly our grocery shelves empty during fires, floods, and avalanches, and are doing their part to raise money for more food production in the valley by producing some special holiday memories for you. 

The Invermere Brick was the first to step up making the evenings possible. Owner, Robin Aldred says, “The Brick Invermere is honoured to be the lead sponsor for the Garden of Lights supporting food sustainability. This is a subject that I and many other locals feel very strongly about as the need in the community is apparent and ongoing. After speaking with volunteers who work so diligently to make sure that The Groundswell Network operates as optimally as possible, it becomes clear how large that need is. I feel that it is our shared responsibility as community members to help support those that endeavour to make the valley a better place for all of us, and The Brick Invermere is proud to be able to give back to our community.” 

HI Jinx’s talented owner Arly Franson and her creative team are heading up decorating to bring Candyland, Wonderland and Whoville to the gardens. 

Linnea and Louise are making ‘gingies’, lollys, and gum drops a feast for your eyes. 

The David Thompson IA students are creating a Starland that will light the sky with their brilliance.  

Summit Trail Makers, led by Doug Andrus, are putting down their chainsaws and picking up their staple guns to install a rainbow of lights for you and your little ones to stroll through. 

The Home Hardware team, a strong supporter of food sustainability, is building stands for 50 trees decorated by individual sponsors … you will vote on your favourite tree – from fantasy to fantastic to funny; you will share laughter with neighbours as you enjoy them all. 

Columbia Valley Arts partnered up to give us our awesome Entertainment Director Slone Leman, an up-and-coming recording artist, who is creating a musical tapestry that includes the new JA Laird choir, Spring Burke with her violin romancing you in the greenhouse, and Bryant Olender kicking out the beat in the gardens as you dance around the fire. 

The little ones will enjoy Kayla Wolfenden, appearing as Cindy Lou, with a reading of The Night Before Christmas each evening at 6 p.m. Stand by for much more.

Tayton Bay will have a hot toddy ready to warm you, The Smoke House’s mouth-watering pulled pork on a bun will fill your tummy, and Sweet Mountain Ice will have your favourite popcorn treat. They’ll be joined by the students of JA Laird who will be selling hot chocolate to raise money for their garden program.  

Tickets are on sale now at (tickets will only be available online). 

Come and connect at the Garden of Lights!