He filled the tub
Cavendish waste recovery facility houses small vegetable garden
Farmer Terry Dobbie checks out the strawberries he planted in an old bathtub to see if there are any ripe ones in Cavendish. Dobbie, who works part time at the waste recovery site in the community, noticed there were lots of perfectly usable items getting dropped off at the facility. Using his agricultural intuition, he came up with a great idea to help share food with others by reusing some of those materials on-site.
A Cavendish man is sprucing up the waste recovery facility in his hometown, and he has the support of Eastern Waste Management.
Terry Dobbie is the owner of Grow Dat Farms, but also works part time as a gate attendant at the recovery facility, located just off the main road in the Trinity Bay town.
In his job he chats with all the locals that come from as far away as Spread Eagle to drop off their garbage and scraps. The big problem Dobbie sees is that a lot of it can be repurposed.
“Some of the stuff that comes in here is brand new,” he explained. “And a lot of it is in good condition.”
Bathtubs, for example, are among the items he sees plenty of. The local farmer has turned 28 of them into a vegetable garden.
A vegetable garden at a waste disposal site? Yes, that’s right. Dobbie has set up the bathtubs away from the piles of metal, electronics, old furniture and all else on the site. In fact, it’s the first thing that greets you when you enter the gates.
Besides the bathtubs, Dobbie also repurposed tires to grow potatoes.
“I didn’t know if they would grow,” he said. “But they grew really well.”
In the bathtubs, he grew strawberries, broccoli, peas, cabbage beets and yellow zucchini. Most were already harvested before a Compass reporter visited the site last Tuesday, but a handful of strawberries and a few vegetables remained.
Interest is there
Vehicles come and go steadily for the three days the facility is open to drop off bulk garbage. Some are intrigued by the garden.
“How did the harvest go,” asked one woman in the passenger seat of a black pickup truck. “Have anything left?”
Dobbie described the strawberries that came from the bathtubs and apologized he didn’t have any to give her.
“Normally, if I had them, I’d have given her a pint,” he said.
That is what he has been doing with the items that come out of the ground. He gives them away. Some he gives to locals just stopping by, but Dobbie is also donating items to the food banks. He donates some of his own crops from Grow Dat Farms as well.
“It’s a hobby,” he said. “I like trying new ( farming) things out and seeing what works.”
So far, all the crops he grew were successful.
When Dobbie initially started the garden, he didn’t know how people would react. It was a little “out of the box,” he said. But the items he was watching get hauled away to Robin Hood Bay and shipped off to the mainland — electronics and tires are not recycled in this province — were perfectly usable.
One person brought boxes of flooring that hadn’t been opened yet. It was just excess product and they had no need for it anymore.
“What gets to me is, I heard it on the radio not that long ago that a family lost everything in a fire,” he said. “We don’t have to be burying this stuff. We can be donating it to those who need it, or to those who are creative enough to reuse it.”
Dobbie’s mother, Joy BishopDobbie, who also chairs the Cavendish Local Service Dis- trict committee, inspired him to reuse the items on site. She often uses old items to accentuate her own garden.
“I’m not as creative as my mom,” Dobbie laughed.
Eastern Waste responds
The chairperson for Eastern Waste Management, the company that operates the waste recovery facility in Cavendish and several others across eastern Newfoundland, only recently learned about Dobbie’s garden and was impressed. Ed Grant was happy to see Dobbie show initiative for this project.
“The only comment we would make about it is, ‘Bravo, great for you,’” Grant explained. “It’s a great initiative, it’s a non-profit. I mean, he gave it away.”
There was initially some concern that the crops were being grown on a site that used to be a dump, but once they learned things were being grown in the bathtubs, they were on board.
“When I learned about this, I thought, ‘It’s fabulous,’” Grant added.
Although they like the idea, he’s doubtful it could happen across all the facilities, since it takes a certain skill to grow vegetables and fruit. But he’s open to other suggestions.
“There’s other skills that people may have and say, ‘I want to do it,’” Grant said. “And where we can help, we’d certainly love to do that.”
For Dobbie, he’s just happy he could make a few people smile.
“It’s just something I wanted to try,” he explained. “And I’m glad to see people interested in it.”
The bathtubs and tires are used at the Cavendish waste recovery facility to create a vegetable garden.
Some of the strawberries that grew at the waste recovery facility in Cavendish were fairly large.
Some of the crops harvested this year included strawberries and cabbage.