Guests soak up natural wonders at White Point
Published in the Chronicle Herald April 30/19: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/more/custom-content/guests-soak-up-natural-wonders-of-white-point-306725/
Written by Heather Clarke
When Wendy Coolen’s digging away in the rich garden soil, guests at White Point Beach Resort will often stop to watch her work or ask questions about what she’s harvesting.
“I like to say ‘It’s going to be your salad for supper tonight,’” smiles Coolen. “You can’t get much fresher than that.”
Coolen is the green-thumbed horticulturist and naturalist in charge of keeping everything at White Point Beach Resort blooming, growing, thriving and even protected.
One of the tennis courts was converted into a large veggie garden so White Point’s chefs could serve up garden-fresh fare to their guests. Coolen says they grow all different kinds of salad greens — like lettuce (several varieties), mustard greens, spinach and Asian greens — as well as herbs and cherry tomatoes.
The kitchen scraps are composted to help their gardens grow — Coolen says they hardly ever need to purchase fertilizer because they create their own compost — and they use leftover vegetable seeds to grow new veggies and complete the cycle.
But composting and gardening is just the beginning. White Point implemented one of the province’s first in-room recycling programs decades ago, according to general manager Joanne Veinotte. She says their team is “very conscious” about the natural environment within which White Point is located.
“Green initiatives have been truly ‘a way of life’ here at White Point,” says Veinotte. “We are continuously seeking new initiatives that reduce our footprint, support diversity and engage our guests in a meaningful way with our property. We’re very proud of our programs and their success.”
White Point Beach Resort has its own herb garden and greenhouse and uses rain barrels and a big cistern to reduce their water consumption. As a gardener, Coolen says she tries to use grow and native plant material whenever she can to support local bees and birds.
Constantly in motion, White Point’s Living Shoreline Rehabilitation Program is an ongoing work in progress. The efforts and techniques implemented are monitored, shared and regarded as a demonstration of best practices.
Coolen says guests are often amazed by the natural evolution of the beach. The winter cobblestone beach transforms naturally into a stretch of white sand beach with the return of about five feet of sand in the summer.
“This is such a unique and magical spot. We have the open ocean with a sandy beach and a rocky area, a tidal estuary and a back beach pond. We’re almost completely surrounded by water,” says Coolen. “We have marshy areas and wetlands and lots of woods with interesting plant material. It’s always a highlight for us when the Pink Lady’s Slipper bloom.”
While most of White Point’s guests stay 2-3 nights and some for a week or two, they have one guest that arrives each April and stays well into August: an endangered species, the Piping Plover, for their nesting season.
It is fitting that they received confirmation on Earth Day in April that a pair of Plovers — the same pair, in fact, that has been staying with them since 2017 — had checked in again.
The beloved feathered family is tagged so volunteers can track their whereabouts and do their best to keep them safe. Coolen says the birds tend to split up during the winter months — Cuba, the Bahamas, Georgia — but having site fidelity, always return to White Point each spring to spend breeding season together.
On behalf of White Point, Coolen works in conjunction with Bird Studies Canada, Environment Canada and the Piping Plover Conservation team in Nova Scotia, leading the Resorts charge to be champions and stewards for the international travelling birds — serving as ambassadors for their safety during their stay at White Point.
“We share updates and photos about their progress and presence in our social media and in news releases, put up signs — made by our guests and kids at the local middle school — announcing that they’re back, and we do maps to show our guests where they go and how far they travel,” says Coolen. “The guests and staff all love them. It’s a lot of fun and exciting, especially when our guests actually see our Plovers on our beach during one of our guided Stewardship Walks.”
White Point Beach Resort is also a lovely haven for some of nature’s most delicate creatures. Its monarch butterfly gardens have an abundance of milkweed — the essential food source for the endangered species — attracting and nourishing hundreds of monarch butterflies over the last few years.
White Point recently confirmed its location as an International Monarch Waystation, and has even gifted milkweed plants to guests and community members to help the butterflies flourish. As they do with their Piping Plovers, the Resort documents and shares the life cycle of the visiting Monarch Butterflies in an effort to raise awareness and engage the public in meaningful ways.
Coolen has worked at White Point for nearly 14 years and says she loves the camaraderie of her “work family.” Together, they enjoy immersing their guests in the natural beauty of the oceanside property and opening them up to new experiences.
Being nestled within the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, Veinotte says White Point is “always striving to create unique opportunities for our guests to enjoy their time here, reconnecting with themselves, those they are with — and the natural wonders of this very special place they are surrounded by.”
White Point Beach Resort, located on Nova Scotia’s South Shore just outside of Liverpool, is a year-round destination that has welcomed guests from around the world for vacations, weddings and meetings for more than 90 years.