The Asparagus Farm
Many who have grown up in Lethbridge remember asparagus (Asparagus ofiicinalis), that succulent, edible perennial herb. There were three local sites where this herb was grown: in the river valley (stalks can still be seen intermingling with the various grasses); near the Coutts Highway (exact location not known), and at the east end of 10th Avenue South, close to the Exhibition Park grandstand.
Marty’s Asparagus Farm was a familiar fixture for many years. In the early days, prairie and fields dominated the landscape. It was a 1½ mile walk from the town centre to Henderson Park. To get to the farm, one walked a little further to the southwest corner of the fairgrounds to view the asparagus blowing in the Lethbridge wind.
Louis Marty was the first owner of the farm. He settled in the city in 1932 and worked for Fraches Brothers Flower Shop, at 504 – 3 Avenue South, in a variety of capacities. Their greenhouses were located at 2014 -6 Avenue A North. Marty stayed with Fraches until 1957 when he began building his farm. His home address was listed as being “Henderson Park” or the “south side of Henderson Park”. In the early 1950s, the house numbers changed as the area grew and the Marty residence became 3909 – 10 Avenue South. Louis retired two years later in 1959.
The asparagus farm continued under proprietorship of Art Vadnais who remained in residence until the early 1970s. Asparagus was sold directly from the farm and many people took advantage of the opportunity to get the herb fresh. In 1973 the farm was redeveloped to make way for new housing development and new owners took up residence in the asparagus area. Asparagus is now obtained from any grocery store and prepared to one’s liking. Have you tried asparagus on toast?
While asparagus does not grow in the public gardens at the Galt Museum, there are plenty of other plants to discover here and throughout the region. Wildflowers in Waterton are always stunning at this time of year. The Galt’s Get Outta Town Waterton Wildflower Bus Tour heads out on Saturday, June 19, with gardener Lyndon Penner and traditional Métis guide Brenda Holder leading tours at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Details at www.galtmuseum.com.