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July 27, 2012

Community

Community Garden grows plants, social interaction in South Post Housing area

Military Families, Summer Camp participants and gardeners of all skills are pooling their talents and efforts to make this year’s Fort McCoy Community Garden near the South Post Family Housing area a success.
PHOTO: Youth in the Fort McCoy Summer Camp program help remove weeds at the Community Garden on South Post. Photo by Rob Schuette
Youth in the Fort McCoy Summer Camp program help remove weeds at the Community Garden on South Post. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Mike Napsey, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Garden manager, said this year’s participants are overcoming a late start and a nearly unprecedented heat wave to bring the garden products to fruition.

“People are doing everything they can to make the garden a success,” Napsey said. “There are plans to donate some of the harvest to those in need through local pantries. We also have items, such as squash, zucchini, pumpkins and cucumbers for South Post residents who did not have the time or it was too late to have a garden.”

Dylan Garrett, the VISTA Program Garden Project director, said several youth in the Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services Summer Camp program are helping with the garden.

“It teaches them responsibility; they donate time twice a week to support the garden,” Garrett said.

PHOTO: A Soldier gets a little help from Family members at the Family's garden plot. Photo by Rob Schuette
Garrison Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Allen Raub gets a little help from Family members at the Family’s garden plot at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

The work the CYS Services youth perform includes weeding and watering, Garrett said. Eventually, the youth will add bird houses and flowers around the garden’s fences.

Staff Sgt. Mark Boals, a veterinarian food service inspector, said he and his wife, Cherie, have more than 80 plants in their section.

“We’re helping others maintain sections of the garden,” he said. “We’ve also met people who have never gardened before and help them out.”

Additional plantings, such as a pumpkin patch, were planted for the youth. Boals said the plan is to ensure every child in the South Post military Family Housing area has at least one pumpkin for Halloween. Surplus food from the Community Garden also is used to support the South Post Family Hosing area, as well as other agencies, such as local food pantries.

Julie Raub, a Family member, said she did a lot of gardening in New Jersey. She selects the plants while her spouse Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Allen Raub takes care of the plants with help from Family members.

“When we get together with the other gardeners, on occasion, I catch up on life in Wisconsin,” Julie Raub said. “Sometimes we also exchange gardening tips.”

Although gardening is hard work, it can be relaxing, leisurely and enjoyable, Chaplain Raub said.

Napsey said that the size, fence and irrigation system for the new garden was planned to support the current and future housing at South Post. With the rising produce prices, the Community Garden provides a place for Families to garden and save money, have the tools and equipment available for them to use. The Community Garden is more than just a place for Families to plant their gardens — it is a place where Families can socialize and get to know their neighbors and help build a strong community, he added.

Anyone in the Fort McCoy community, who wants to help with the garden this year or learn more about renting a garden plot, can call Napsey at 608-388-6588.

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