Harold Fenske – 2019

Harold Fenske is the 2019 recipient of the  John Fagan award. This award is to given in  recognition to a  gardener who:

  • Promotes the social, economic and cultural well-being of others through community gardening
  • Teaches others how to garden
  • Is a role model for other community gardeners

Thank you Harold for all you do for Grow Regina and for inspiriting others to garden.

Harold Fenske in the garden enjoying a tomato

The reason that Harold Fenske was chosen for this award is best expressed in the nominating letter his daughter Sheryl R. Glasser sent to the board below.

My father, Harold, is a masterful gardener. He is generous, knowledgeable, and
hardworking – a man who has inspired a love in gardening in myself and countless
Dad has gardened for as long as I can remember. He was one of the first members of the
Board of Grow Regina, spending innumerable hours tending to his plot at the original
Broad and College location. He fully embodies the mission and mandate of Grow Regina
with his commitment to bettering the garden space and the community that upholds it.
Harold is wonderfully social, always open to sharing his produce, mentoring others, and
supporting their goals and ideas. He cares for common spaces and is constantly invested
in the upkeep and reputation of the garden as a whole.
Harold is also an incredible teacher. His many years as a school superintendent come out
while he is in the garden, where he can always be found offering support, giving advice,
or passing along a tip he’s learned in his 60+ years of growing produce. For Harold,
gardening is intimately tied to his life growing up on a homestead in Northern
Saskatchewan. It is because of this upbringing that he brings a spirit of true hospitality to
the Grow Regina community. He has mentored his not only his children and
grandchildren, but also the numerous classes of grade one students I’ve brought to my
plot over the years. Among my students – and their parents – he is famous for his “potato
lessons,” a special time in which he teaches them many tangible things, like how to find
the eye, how to divide them to use as seed, and how to plant them the right way up, but
also many intangible things, such as how to find not only purpose but also deep joy in
planting your own garden and reaping its rewards. It is truly heartwarming to hear the
kids yelling “Bye, Grandpa Harold!” as they leave after every lesson. I believe it gives
him great happiness to be able to pass these long-held traditions on, particularly in this
digital age.
In addition to being an inspiration to another generation of young gardeners, Harold is
also an innovator. He was responsible for the inaugural orchard at the Queen Street
garden space. His haskaps and cherries have been incredibly successful, resulting in
many jars of handmade preserves that is happy to share with any who express interest
(and all who taste them will vouch for his skill). Harold’s trees are also well suited to the
local environment: he chose these plants after thorough research into local plant life,
including conversations with professors at the University of Saskatchewan and specialists at Over the Hill Orchard. Harold is a true knowledge-gatherer, one who understands that one of the necessities of wisdom is the ability to freely give that knowledge to those who seek it.
Above all, he truly loves gardening. It is both his passion and his talent. I have not seen
another person so happy to simply sit after the day’s work is done and watch as the sun
sets on the fruits of his labor. You may even see him sneak a piece of warm fruit –
tomato, maybe an apple – and eat it straight from the earth, still covered in dirt and warm from the sun. He truly understands the pleasure of the simple things.
For these and infinite other reasons, I can think of no better person to receive this award.