Lindsay Kay (left) and Jillian Merrick at work planting the Wells Community Garden. Josh Trotter-Wanner photo

Excitement building around Wells Community Garden

There are 12 members this year, and they are building a new compost

It’s clear Lindsay Kay is excited when she starts talking about the Wells Community Garden.

For the past few years, Kay, a volunteer with the Wells and Area Community Association, hasn’t had many extra hands to help with the work, but this year, there has been more interest and more energy.

“It’s so wonderful to see,” said Kay. “It’s inspiring too because you want to do more because the excitement is contagious. It’s such a neat way to be with your community, I think.”

The Wells Community Garden began in 2008, and it was started by Kay’s friend Megan Topham, who has since moved away.

Kay says they received various grants through Northern Health’s Imagine program to help get the garden going.

“They’ve been incredibly helpful,” she said. “We built our whole greenhouse through them. So that’s been really great.”

This year, Kay and Jillian Merrick are voluntarily managing the garden, and Kay is excited about the new energy around the garden.

“It’s been really good because there’s been quite a lull the past few years because it’s so dependent on how many people there are,” she said. “There are only 200 people in the whole town, so when Megan left, there was this huge gap, and then my friend Rebecca moved to town and she was amazing, but then she moved away. So Jillian has just permanently moved here the past couple of years and now she’s totally on board, and it’s really great because we have 12 members this year.”

Kay says they are working on a few new projects this year, including building a new compost.

She adds Community Garden members generally come and go, but they have had three workbee days already to work on community projects, such as cleaning out the greenhouse or replacing boards on raised beds.

Generally, they usually plant around the May long weekend, and Kay says she planted around Victoria Day, as did Merrick, but some people haven’t planted yet.

Kay says they used to have a little garden party at the end of the season and have a baking contest, and her friend Bob Campbell would play music. They haven’t done it for a few years, but she’s hoping they will do something similar at the end of this year now that there are more people involved.

Kay says the ground has a lot of clay in it, so they truck in soil from Quesnel, but they are able to grow a variety of vegetables in the community garden.

She has her own garden in her yard as well, so she has grown garlic at the community garden, and she has some tomatoes in the greenhouse. Kay says root vegetables grow really well in Wells, as well as kale, peas and garlic.

“Anything that needs a longer growing season really needs to be in the greenhouse, and we’ve got that amazing greenhouse, so things like tomatoes – peppers don’t ever do very well, but you’ll get a tiny little pepper in the greenhouse,” she said. “One year, Megan grew a tiny little cantaloupe – it was the size of a tennis ball – so we’re always trying to experiment. It’s interesting because when I moved here, I moved here almost 13 years ago, there weren’t very many people gardening, and then Megan started the community garden and I started my garden, so we’re always trying to figure out what can we grow here because there was really this attitude that you couldn’t grow anything in Wells, and we were just like ‘we’re going to show them.’ It’s been really neat because Megan did, and then I followed after she showed me it was possible. She just put a lot of effort in and covered them at night and grew massive carrots. You can grow stuff, but basically frost could come at any time. So you just have to be a little more creative and maybe put a little more extra effort into it. “

The Wells Community Garden is managed through the Wells and Area Community Association, which also operates the recycling depot and the daycare in Wells.

In previous years, they received funding from Farm to School to build a separate garden at Wells-Barkerville Elementary School, which has four raised beds and a little greenhouse. Kay says it is a partnership between the school and the Community Garden, and she usually volunteers to help with the garden. This year, she thinks they will take it pretty easy and grow potatoes at the school.

Wells Community Garden members pay a $20 membership fee for the year, and that includes greenhouse beds and outdoor beds. Kay says they usually try to provide some organic fertilizer, and they have garden tools members can use. This year, they are also offering a variety of seeds for members.

The garden is located right across the alley from the school field.

“It’s really neat, you can see the school garden and the community garden,” said Kay.

For more information about the Wells Community Garden, email Kay at

READ MORE: Ranch Musings: As we prepare for planting

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