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Hi-Line Living - Giving and Growing: Bob Doney


August 18, 2017

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

It took four years of tilling the ground before Bob Doney had a plot that could produce, he said.

Once that plot off Bullhook Drive was fertile, Doney was off and growing and hasn't looked back since.

Every year for the last decade, Doney has not only grown more food than he and his wife could eat, but he has given most of it - three-quarters of it - away to the Havre Food Bank.

Giving, Doney, said, is something he picked up from his parents - much like growing food. Doney credits his parents with much of his gardening.

Doney's half-acre garden plot is right next to his greenhouse, Bob's Greenhouse, where he and his wife grow and sell annuals, roses, perennials, trees, shrubs and more.

Doney's garden comprises rows of cabbage, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, potatoes corn, tomatoes, raspberries, watermelons and onions.

In the southwest corner, between the greenhouse and the garden plot, lie two large tanks filled with water. The tanks are elevated on pallets to create gravity pressure. A series of hoses with valves emanate from the tanks and snake around the rows of food, creating a drip irrigation system that waters the fruits and vegetables.

Like his neighbor across the street Stu McIntosh, Doney said he is glad to have an alternative way to water his produce, espeically considering the severity of the regional drought.

Doney said he grew up on a 320-acre farm 10 miles south of Bozeman, before the area "turned into a zoo."

"They won't be satisfied until they got every square foot of that valley covered," he said of Bozeman.

Life on the Hi-Line, he said, is more his speed, more to his liking.

"I love it. Good people, everybody's friendly, and I like the small-town aspect and the open country," he said.

It was education that lured him to the Hi-Line in the 1960s, he said.

"Had a shop instructor in high school," he said. "I was always handy as far as mechanic-ing and welding, and so on. So he says, 'Why don't you go up to Northern Montana College?' So, 1960 I came up here and went three years - got two degrees - and I pretty much stayed."

Doney worked for years as a mechanic and shop foreman but has since retired, though retired is a misnomer when it comes to Doney.

At 75, Doney has yet to start slowing down.

"The trouble is, I got so much energy," he said. "That's just the way my mother and dad was, too. I'm not bragging, I just carry on the trend."

Sure, he's had hip and knee operations, but it's nothing that's about to slow him down. Somewhere in between growing, Doney manages to work on his two hobby cars - a '55 Chevy and a '57 Nomad Wagon. But growing seems to take a good portion of his time. It never occurred to Doney not to raise produce. It's something he's known all his life.

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

"My mother and dad, we always had a big garden," he said.

More so, Doney said, he loves the process.

"Watching the different plants grow - that's my love," he said.

Doney said he doesn't spray anything on the produce. One reason he's glad he doesn't do so is the bees.

Neighbor and friend Clay Vincent's bees come over and feed and pollinate.

"It's been incredible," he said, grinning and pointing at two bees hovering over raspberry vines.

Harvest is not too far away, and Doney said he expects to have a decent haul for the food bank. Two years ago, he said, his donation came out to 1,650 pounds. He hopes for the same this year.


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