Bunchberry Meadows: The sweet city escape
In May, I moved from my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, to Edmonton, Alberta, to start my new summer job with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). With no friends or family there and little to no knowledge of the area, it was the beginning of my new out-west adventure.
I've found that Edmonton is like Ottawa in many ways: lots of green space, a body of water running through the centre, similar populations and both are provincial capitals. Unique to Edmonton and unbeknownst to me, just 30 minutes outside of the city centre and 15 minutes outside the city limits, lies Bunchberry Meadows — an property owned by NCC and Edmonton & Area Land Trust that was just recently opened to the public.
On my second day on the job as the new communications intern for NCC's Alberta region, and on only my third day in Edmonton, it's safe to say that I was pretty overwhelmed. I was relieved when my supervisor, Carys, informed me that, weather permitting, we’d be going on a field trip the following day. The sun shines an awful lot around here and, when tomorrow rolled around, it was no exception. After finishing up some paperwork in the morning, I put on my running shoes and some shorts, threw on an NCC baseball cap and off we went.
We drove out along the river valley area, spotting little signs of spring after what's been a very long winter for both Edmontonians and Ottawans. Within no time we were pulling up to a gravel road marked by a "Bunchberry Meadows" sign, past a small group of women celebrating a birthday on the property’s picnic tables and into the parking lot. Carys took photos around the property as the senior development officer in Edmonton, Andi Romito, described to me the property's history and the hard work undertaken by NCC’s natural area managers over the last few years.
As the area around Edmonton is quite flat, our one-hour excursion is best described as a nature walk. Within that short hour, however, the landscape around us changed three times.
During the first leg of the journey, we walked along shining blonde meadows that resembled long horsehair brushed back by the wind. The ground beneath our feet was soft and I learned that only a centimetre or two under our feet lay sandy soil. As we walked, trees seemed to pop up alongside us, becoming increasingly dense until we were surrounded by what felt like an enchanted forest of slim birch trees, which were just starting to show their tiny green buds. Finally, we entered a forested area. Here, I was introduced to a few new types of trees. A hawk flew by gracefully overhead as we looped back into the meadows and toward the parking lot.
Other than a few trail signs and a well-marked path, the Bunchberry Meadows property was untouched and unmistakably lovely. It was the perfect escape from the office on a Friday afternoon and a welcome end to my hectic first week.
Edmontonians are incredibly lucky to have access to such a beautiful space. I hope that as spring creeps into summer, people will take the time to get out of the city and immerse themselves in this special space.
Bunchberry Meadows felt like the perfect little escape from the city. Spending time outside always grounds me, and this was no different. With this important slice of nature open to the public and only 30 minutes away, there's no excuse not to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program.