Spirit and pride sprout at Valley Manor

BARRY’S BAY – For many, gardening is a pleasant pastime or sometimes even considered a tedious chore but for one local man, gardening means much, much more.

Sylvester Kuiack loves gardening, he says.

In fact, he loves gardening so much, he has been hard at it for more than 35 years now.

His parents always had a garden too.

“It’s a unique and pretty rewarding experience, to have a garden,” Kuiack explained. “I love to help produce something and watch it grow, and then in turn, people are able to get something out of it.”

Gardening takes commitment too, however, Kuiack added.

“It’s certainly kept me busy over the years, that’s for sure, all that weeding,” he said laughing.

From tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and potatoes, Kuiack has done it all over the years.

“My wife always liked the flowers,” he said.

But the veggies is where the real fun is at if you ask Kuiack.

“I used tell my wife, you can’t eat the flowers!”

So, the plus 60-year married couple, over time, opted for the more nutritious choice.

At one time, Kuiack says he had more than 250 hills of potatoes.

The Madawaska man is also infamous for his homemade jarred pickles too, both bread and butter, and dill.

Gardening and the fruits of labour that come with it have pleased the local man for some time and it has never got old either, he said.

Watching something grow and helping to create something, there is a certain beauty in it, he explained.

“My kids tried to tell me last summer to stop the weeding and what not,” Kuiack said. “Of course, I didn’t listen,” he chuckled.

What’s more, the kids weren’t complaining after they got their pickles, Kuiack joked.

But Kuiack admits, as he has aged, it has got harder for him to do some of things he’s loves. Getting down on his hands and knees, to weed the gardens, isn’t really an option anymore, he explained. He understands, what his kids were saying, they just wanted him to be safe.

In April of 2013, Kuiack moved into the Valley Manor Nursing Home.

But at age 84, Kuiack still isn’t ready to give up on his lifelong love for gardening just yet.

His daughter, not long after Kuiack moved in, approached Activities Director Mary Blank at the Manor and said, “I think my dad is getting bored.”

After the two got talking, the idea to ask Kuiack if he was interested in taking part in the Manor’s vegetable garden projects came about.

Story continues in the July 17, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette