Black River Gardens
by Lillie Normile
Do you enjoy cutting grass with your riding lawn mower or are you looking for less lawn maintenance? Conrad Biernacki and Brian Musselwhite, owners/operators of Black River Bed and Breakfast, have found the perfect solution.
They moved from Toronto to Prince Edward County to begin extensive renovations to create Black River Bed and Breakfast. There had not been any updates since 1983 and major interior renovations were completed. They now reside at the B&B, with four additional bedrooms available to guests. Conrad is responsible for the cooking, using locally sourced, organic food. Though not a trained chef he does it for the love of cooking great, healthy meals. Brian takes care of the room preparations, laundry and keeping the B&B spic and span. It is a team effort.
A truly relaxing place to spend time and use as your home base to explore the county, walking trails, cycling routes, parks, arts and artisans and wineries can be visited at your leisure. Throughout the year a large variety of festivals are held including Maple in the County, Countylicious, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, Art and Music Festivals, something for everyone. A dock is available for guests who wish to bring their own canoes, kayaks or paddle boards.
Partnering with neighbour Vicki's Veggies, certified organic with Ecocert, they created both vegetable and flower gardens on their 3.5 acre property. The large, level front lawn had not been sprayed with pesticides and was the perfect space to create an organic vegetable garden. Two vegetable gardens (48' x 220') are separated by ten foot, grassed walkways to allow their guests to wander and admire the gardens. Labour Day weekend they host an event where visitors can sample over 100 varieties of tomatoes. Food trucks and artisan booths join in the event. Both Conrad and Brian take pride in having their lawn put to such good use.
A 1/4 acre flower garden attracts bees, butterflies and birds. Tall, gangly sunflowers, cosmos, cornflowers and buckwheat draw photographers to the site. Sparrows, blue jays and finches are a few of the birds enjoying the seeds even long after summer has faded and little is left of the original blooms.
A 300 foot cedar hedge and a dozen feeders encourage birds to visit the gardens. At times the yard is a whirlwind of activity as the birds, bees and butterflies move about looking for seeds, nectar and a place to call home. It provides guests an opportunity for birdwatching from a comfy chair on the lawn.
Conrad hopes that “their gardens provide encouragement for others. No matter how small the yard, make it useful.” A front yard can be converted to a garden and eliminate grass cutting and the backyard can host beds for vegetables or flowers and a place to sit, relax and watch the activity provided by nature.
For Brian “the natural aspect is important to us.”
Besides lessening their own work load they are proud to have created a space for food that feeds people, birds, bees and butterflies. Conrad and Brian are making a positive impact on the environment with their gardens. Thank you.