Wood pallets: One person’s garbage…

Tyler Clarke
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A burden to many businesses, wood pallets have proven a blessing to Mel and Bonny Sanderson.


Scattered throughout their expansive garden east of Prince Albert are wood pallet creations -- benches, planter boxes, fences, tables and various other odds and ends.

And the total price tag for this impressive collection of creative pieces?  Maybe $20, or so. $30?

“All we had to buy is nails for the nail gun and 2x4s for the (bench) legs,” Bonny explained during a weekend tour of Jessy’s Garden -- a charitable effort the married couple operates to help feed the area’s less fortunate.

The adventure into pallets began with a recent trip to the city, when Mel came back with a truckload of pallets from Zep Factory Outlet.

Labeled garbage by most companies, who receive shipments stacked on the wooden frames made of what’s considered junk wood, they were given to him for free.

Determined to do something creative with the pallets, Bonny threw some suggestions Mel’s way and his creative mind started churning out improvements.

“I just give him ideas and he always impresses me,” Bonny said, reflecting on a bench near the front of their property with “Jessy’s Garden” carved into is back.

After a few more trips to town for more pallets, countless hours of work and the loss of a fingertip, he’s created a plethora of wooden structures throughout the garden.

And, pretty much the only cost to the items is time.

“It’s a very economic project for this place,” Bonny said, noting that their current model has them barely scraping by financially.

But, she’s decided -- it’s worth it to help the community as much as they can.

I just give him ideas and he always impresses me. Bonny Sanderson

Expanding the garden significantly, they’re hoping to feed a record 6,000 people this year, including an increased effort to help the Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank.

As one point of reference, about 3,300 pounds of seed potatoes were put in the ground this year, Bonny said.

Various companies and individuals have helped the garden so far this year – most recently Obsession Greenhouse who donated a truckload of vegetables, herbs and marigolds to the garden.


What happens to pallets at the landfill site?

Not all wood pallets are gathered up by thrifty carpenters such as Mel, with some making their way to the City of Prince Albert landfill site.

At the site, crews do their best to separate pallets, alongside other wood waste, into a separate pile, public works operations manager Alain Trudel said.

Combined with tree branches, used lumber and various other pieces of junk wood, the pile has two potential destinations.

One is the city’s compost program, wherein the junk wood is chipped and mulched into compostable material.

The other possible destination is the Prince Albert Pulp Mill, where it will help power the on-site cogeneration facility, which is producing power to the SaskPower grid.

Through these two efforts, as few pallets as possible are left in the landfill site. 

Organizations: Prince Albert, Meal Food Bank, SaskPower

Geographic location: Prince Albert

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