Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) garden plots on Fort
McCoy’s South Post have helped foster a sense of community on the
installation while also saving participants money in a time of
increasing food costs.
A view of the Fort McCoy Better
Opportunities for Single Soldiers garden plots on South Post. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
Napsey, Fort McCoy BOSS adviser, said the BOSS program helps organize
the program on about one-half acre of land on South Post. The
installation and the BOSS program provide the 20-by-20-foot plots,
garden implements to work the soil and water needed for the plants.
Fencing also is erected around the garden area to keep out deer.
provide the time and tender loving care to grow the plants," he
said. "They’re having fun doing this. When they come to look at
their gardens and work on them, this is the chance they can talk to
each other and share their experiences."
program begins in the spring when BOSS garden plots are advertised.
Napsey said the garden plots are one of BOSS’ core programs and also
help support the Army Family Covenant.
members, including Napsey, help prepare the area for use. This has
included tilling the land, installing spigots to bring water to the
area, and staking out plots, he said.
personnel also have been instrumental in helping to bring top soil
and, this year, fertilizer to the area with input and knowledge
provided by the University of Wisconsin system. Napsey said the
program has been coordinated with the installation’s environmental
personnel to ensure it meets all Army environmental standards.
Maj. Merrel Gage of the 1st, 274th Regiment of the 70th Division, 84th
Training Command (Leadership Readiness) said it was the second year he
has participated in the BOSS Garden program.
was crazy not to do it before then," Gage said. "(Because)
of the low cost of renting the plot — they provide you with a
fenced-in area, garden tools and water — you can get a high return
on your investment. It’s an incredible deal and benefit."
said gardening also provides him and many other personnel an
incredible stress reduction from the normal frenetic pace of their
BOSS garden participants often meet the other personnel and their
family members when they’re taking care of their garden plots, Gage
said. Everyone became friends and exchanged their gardening tips to
help all the gardens reach their maximum potential.
members took extra produce from their gardens and shared it with the
personnel they worked with, he said.
Warrant Officer 3 Patrick Rasmussen (Criminal Investigation Division),
his wife, Ruth, and their children enjoyed their first year of using
both grew up gardening and always have had a garden of our own,"
Ruth Rasmussen said. "It is very convenient since we live in
South Post Housing — a short walk to the garden every day."
garden has both economic and social benefits for family members, she
said. The garden allows them to get to know their neighbors a little
bit better, and they also get tips from their fellow gardeners. The
Rasmussens expect to save money on vegetables once they can harvest
just been a great experience, and (our family) can’t wait to have a
garden again next year," she said.
Dennis, a Navy veteran and member of the Fort McCoy community, said he
was impressed with how well the garden is laid out, the addition of
fertilizer and black soil, and the availability of garden tools, etc.
Dennis has farmers and gardeners in his family he has never planted a
garden on his own. He said he has had mixed success in his first year.
The onions and potatoes seem to be doing OK, but he has learned that
plants need to be properly spaced and the weeds have to be kept down
or they will take over a garden.
other gardeners have readily given him tips about improving his
has made for an enjoyable hobby — a great way to de-stress after
work or commune with nature on the weekends," Dennis said.
"I’d like to do it again next year — and hopefully do better
said the Fort McCoy Child , Youth and School Services program
contributed bird houses, which have attracted birds to the area to
help control pests.
any BOSS program Soldiers who want to use the plots are served, the
plots are made available to everyone in the community including
Soldiers and their families, military retirees, government employees
— both contracted and noncontracted — and Tomah Veterans Affairs
Medical Center residents, if they’re interested, Napsey said.
the way the price of vegetables is going up, productive people can
save themselves a lot of money," Napsey said. "The area also
is convenient for the personnel who live on South Post, including
those who will live in the new South Post houses when they open."
more information about the program, call Napsey at (608) 388-6588.