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The vacant lot at 991 Lincoln Way, between the Healing Light Institute and Wave Broadband is full of brightly colored yellow weeds, and considered an eyesore for many who walk by it, but soon it will be a full lush vegetable garden.
In a groundbreaking ceremony held Thursday Morning, a golden shovel of dirt marked the beginning of the Armed Forces Community Memorial Garden. The garden has been a dream for The Forgotten Soldier Program and the Empathetic Touch for many years.
According to Phyllis Ingmire, with The Forgotten Soldier Program, this is the first stage of putting together a garden that will bring both veterans and community together. “Any work done in the soil always helps people mend whatever it is they are looking to mend in their life, that’s why we have so many people interested in volunteering.”
Part of the healing process is for the veterans to come and lay their hands in the dirt taking part of the growing process that will heal within as they nurture the garden.
Auburn Mayor Bridget Powers said “this is a great community project and it is done for all the right reasons.” According to Powers, Auburn’s Central Square has changed the vibrancy to our town, and adding this to it will support that process.
The garden will be run by volunteers, and there are plenty in line waiting to chip in like Powers. Right now the project has 15 volunteers and as it progresses, more will be needed. According to Kevin Hanley, Auburn City Council, Auburn always puts veterans in the center of our hearts and the garden is in the center of town.
Bob Hipwell, a Viet Nam War veteran, felt that when he and his fellow comrades returned from the war, there wasn’t any sort of reciprocal support so it is nice to have the community come around and help bring a sense of pride to veterans and the garden also gives them a sense of being part of a community.
Mike Holmes has also watched this project come together over the past three years and said there is still plenty of work to make this happen. The Navy Veteran said “I think some of our newer veterans probably have more serious mental situations, and this garden will allow veterans to be able to be serviced.”
Keith Nesbit, who also attended the ground breaking ceremony, said continued enhancement of this area is a great connectivity of Downtown and Old Town, it’s going to be a real great addition to our community.
Home Depot donated $8,000 to the project through a grant and also is providing labor for a day with employee volunteers at the beginning of construction in August.
The garden will be a progressive process, and will take years to develop and mature, but the benefits of the garden will be instant. The goal is to be able to purchase the garden one day, so that it will always be available. Right now the lot of the future garden is on a year to year lease. The Veteran garden will be built in three phases, but the initial part will have 10 raised beds right away. Planting should start taking place in September for a winter garden. Future plans include a labyrinth and meditation yoga stand where veterans can go to help the healing process.
The freshly grown vegetables will go to the veterans and the community members who work on them, and the excess will be donated to the local food bank. Ingmire said they are looking for anyone who is interested in sponsoring a garden box.
To learn about the Armed Forces Community Memorial Garden, visit www.forgottensoldierprogram.org or call 530-889-2300