Minden resident Bruce Down said having the chance to grow his own produce right in town is a blessing he isn’t taking for granted.

The retired senior was among the first to register for a plot at the new Minden Community Garden, which opened May 18. Located at the Minden fairgrounds, the space boasts 20, four-feet by 12-feet raised beds that locals can use to plant fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

“We live on a lot on South Lake Road and it’s all bedrock, solid stone. I couldn’t plant there even if I wanted to,” Down told The Highlander. “I was born and raised on a farm and know what gardens can do for you. They’re a gift.”

Development of the garden was a joint venture between the Minden Community Food Centre and Minden Rotary Club. Gary Stoner, a volunteer with the food bank, said he’s been working on the concept since August.

The project is designed to provide fresh produce to food bank clients and the general public, many of whom – like Down – do not have the physical space to create a garden on their own property, or who live in rented accommodation.

Work began at the site in early May. Stoner said the wood for the plots was donated by Minden Home Hardware and Canadian Tire, while Carnarvon’s Francis Thomas Contracting supplied the topsoil.

“It’s been a real community effort,” he said, estimating the cost to be around $15,000.

As of press time, there were still seven lots available for rent. Stoner said the cost is $20 per season.

The space was a hive of activity on Victoria Day, with several residents stopping by to tend to their lot. Down was the first, planting onions, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and some flowers.

“There’s nothing quite like growing your own stuff,” he said.

Stoner said fencing designed to keep deer and other wildlife away from the plots will be installed in June, while there are plans to run water to the site and install hose beds next summer. Looking long-term, he said the site could be expanded to include more lots if demand spikes.

Anyone interested in tending to a plot can call 705-286-6838, or email mindencommunityfoodcentre@gmail. com. Stoner said he’s looking for people who would be willing to grow fruits and vegetables to donate to the food bank.

“We have certainly seen an uptick in the need for fresh produce in Minden. None of the lots are specifically designated for the food bank, the challenge we have is finding volunteers to look after that, but we would be really thankful if anyone from the community was interested [in taking that on],” Stoner said