Article by Amber Gregg –
I think it is safe to say that the little white and blue house in the downtown of Williams Lake, otherwise known as the Potato House, is a familiar sight in the community. This historic site has been revitalized into an abundant garden space, the only drive-through compost location in Canada, and a home for the collection of artifacts that demonstrate decades of culture in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. If you have not toured the house as a student, you have likely participated in the drive-through compost program, stood in line to get a bag of black gold soil amendment, visited the site to tend to your community garden plot, or attended one of our popular community events. The house has not only become a welcome environment for plants and bugs of all kinds, but it has also become an inviting space for families and community members to come together.
In 2020, the top floor of the house was completely transformed from a small, cluttered space to an airy and open meeting space complete with a gorgeous, reclaimed table and chairs. New windows were installed to improve ventilation and help keep the space at a comfortable temperature, and an emergency exit will soon be installed to allow for maximum safety. This project was made possible by the Northern Development Initiative Trust, Community Halls and Recreations Facilities Fund, and Heritage BC’s Heritage Legacy Fund. This space will eventually be available for use by local organizations to host meetings, and we are excited to share it with the community.
The momentum of the upstairs renovation project has carried on into 2021. Earlier this year, we were thrilled to learn that the organization had been approved for a sizable grant (written by the incomparable Project Alchemist, Joe Borsato), to perform some major restoration work on the house. We are in the process of working with local contractor The Carpenter to replace the Potato House’s failing, damaged foundation. The plan is to remove and replace the current one with a fresh new one. To quote our Executive Director, Mary Forbes, “The old lady is getting new underpants!” In addition to the new foundation, we plan to upgrade and install utilities and services to make the house safe and comfortable for year-round use. All work to the house will have the original character of the house in mind and will use the most sustainable materials wherever possible to reduce the environmental impact of the work.
With each project that we complete, the Potato House increases its value as a community asset. The members of the board of directors and the talented team that carries out the day-to-day activities of the organization have poured countless hours of work into creating this unique space. We look forward to seeing residents throughout the summer while we work on the site and will continue to provide updates on the construction plan as we move along the process. We want to assure residents that our compost services will continue throughout the duration of the work on the house and if there are any changes, we will update you as soon as possible. As always, thank you for your continued support, and if you have any questions, contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amber Gregg is the program co-ordinator for the Potato House Sustainable Community Society. Amber is a long time Cariboo resident and enjoys getting outside with her family as much as possible.