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Estevan Community Gardens invite horticulturists to check out new garden beds

With a government grant, Estevan Community Gardens purchased lumber, steel and landscape fabric, and built eight new beds. Now they have a total of 17 lots available

ESTEVAN - The Estevan Community Gardens are excited to invite local horticulturists to join their family.

With a government grant they received right before the pandemic, the non-profit group purchased lumber, steel and landscape fabric, and built eight new beautiful beds that measure 12 feet by four feet by two feet.

Board chair Theresa Beck talked more about the project.

"When COVID hit, we were able to delay it (the grant) a year just because we couldn't get together even to build them. But once vaccinations came along and everything else last year, we were able to get a few people at a time together to help build them up," Beck said.

The project came to life over last summer and fall. Brian Wright built a prototype with lumber and steel, and the gardeners got together at the garden to finish putting together the rest of the beds in September and October.

Brian and Barb Wright grinded off the excess bolts that were used to reinforce the bed frames, and Bob Frank and Beck lined all of the beds with landscape fabric to get ready to move them into place.

"Big thank you and shout out to Prairie Mud Service and Ray Frehlick, who donated a front-end loader and backhoe along with three of his workers for an entire afternoon to tear down nine of our old beds, remove the dirt piles and hoist the eight new beds in place," Beck said.

"Thank goodness for big machinery and hard workers! Don't know what we would have done without their assistance."

She noted that compared to the old beds that are just wooden frames with tin, the new ones are well thought-through, sturdy and nice looking.

Turnbull Excavating Ltd. donated topsoil, and in the process the gardeners realized how much work it takes to fill each bed.

"Although during a work bee we did fill three of the eight beds with the soil we soon realized it was a huge undertaking to do by hand, and with our extra saved money from garden bed rentals, hired Small Iron Excavating & Landscaping Ltd. to come in with a smaller piece of equipment to fill the remaining beds," Beck noted.

Each new bed has a landscaping fabric and weed guard installed to keep the grass away. Beck said it won't help with blown-in weed seeds, but it should make it easier when it comes to quack grass. Every fall gardeners also call for grass and leaf donations and add till into the beds to enrich the soil.

"We always replenish our beds so we buy extra peat moss, dirt if we think we need it and leaves or grass clippings that will decompose in the beds and add the fertilizer back to the bed itself. So we put all of those into beds, and then we get a rototiller. We usually rent one, and a couple of people lift the rototiller on top, and  then you just roll it to get all of that extra peat moss and the leaves right into the soil," Beck said.

She added that they used to till beds only in the spring but doing it twice a year means the dirt won’t be as packed down and hard.

"The garden flourishes with community contributions, and also with the gardeners taking turns in planting flowers, weeding, cutting grass, and taking on jobs of calling for a water tank fill or to get the garbage cans emptied," Beck said.

While there are a couple of things that gardeners do all together, mainly this project is about creating a space for people who don't have their own garden. The group provides everything gardeners need, including water, which has been donated to them the last couple of years.

"I fully anticipate that we will have everything open this year and in our shed. We have everything from tools, we actually have seeds that have been donated from businesses in town that sell seeds, and that they didn't sell over the summer," Beck said.

There are now 17 beds available, one down from years before as one bed was getting overtaken by the trees on the side of the lot and it was decided to remove it. A few of the beds are already spoken for, as some people come back every year, but they still have about nine beds available.

Beds are $30 per year, and the money helps cover any potential expenses associated with the gardens.

If anyone is interested in having their name put down to get a garden plot this year, please contact Estevan Community Gardens through their Facebook page or contact their secretary Shayna Burrell at 306-421-8570.

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