What do deer, dogs, moles, rabbits, birds, grasshoppers, bugs and bees have in common? They simply love digging, munching, crunching, and lunching in the Melstone Community Garden. The birds and the bees, and some of the bugs, are (mostly) welcome visitors, but the others... not so much! Thanks to the Musselshell Valley Community Foundation, at least the deer and dogs will be on the outside looking in from now on. With funding from the MVCF and the help of a team of very dedicated volunteers and supporters, the garden is now surrounded by a 7.5-foot deer fence, with added artistic touches of a front section of rustic wood fence and life-size Western-style cutouts.
The garden was started in 2008 as a project of the community group that later became the Melstone Area Foundation. It is a focal point on Main Street, and a source of community pride. Gardeners can sign up for raised beds in the spring for a nominal donation of $20 to offset the water bill. At the peak of the season, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers grow in profusion. Everyone shares in the upkeep of the front berm, pathways, the gazebo, water barrels, composters, and fruit trees. The garden is a happy place that draws in the community, whether just to enjoy the view, or sit and relax, or work together. The Melstone High School Vo-Ag class has donated plants and hours of labor over the years, and the Melstone 4-H Club created a fun Christmas display with lights and decorations in 2016.
The concept of displaying life-size Western art pieces was the inspiration of Anne Coles, proprietor of the Lazy JC. Vickie Stensvad cut some out of wood, and the high school Vo-Ag class, under the supervision of teacher J.R. Pierce used their new plasma cutter for the metal ones. A selection of cutouts was temporarily placed on the wood fence, and will be arranged and fastened more permanently on both the wood fence and the gazebo in the spring.
What’s next? Come spring, the chicken wire enclosures around the apple and plum trees will be removed so that the trees can be properly cared for, and perhaps another fruit tree added. Flowers, berries, corn, and perennials will be planted along the inside of the fence, protected from feet and hooves. The garden will continue to grow as a community resource for everyone to enjoy.
The Melstone Community Garden is deeply appreciative of the funding provided by the Musselshell Valley Community Foundation.