Fort Hood Family Community Gardens

Kids are digging right into fresh
vegetables in the community gardens at Fort Hood near Killeen. Fort Hood family
housing is a privatized housing here on Fort Hood. We run over five thousand
housing units and responsible for all of the living communities here on post.
We turn over 50% of the residents in our houses per year, so that tells you
the volume of children and military personnel it come through this post. For
some of these kids they’ve lived in inner-city never knew what a garden looked like. I was with a child the other day that had a cherry tomato in front of him but the
only tomatoes yet ever seen was in a slice on a burger so he didn’t know that
that was a tomato so we ate it and said thank you can I have another one. I think
it’s a great educational tool for the for the kiddos. It’s a place for folks to
come and gather, unwind a little bit do something with their hands, get outside. So it’s just a community effort to get folks connected. It was previously a
garden where each family had their own plots and those were completely tilled down to
the dirt and we built the community garden so that everybody helps with
every thing. Like all-for community gardens, this one’s a team effort. Maintenance staff, community donors,
volunteers, families, and the Lend lease Community Fund. They provide us with
funds to manage the program for some of the materials as well. So all
those seeds are donated, a lot of the planting beds and materials are donated
by various vendors. Farmers assisting returning military co-founded by
veterans James Jeffors and Steve Smith returned to Fort Hood to help. We run an agricultural training farm up in Desoto Texas just outside of Dallas. We use dirt therapy,
recreational therapy and a multi-faceted trauma resolution therapy that helps integrate veterans but also it
creates a peer-to-peer environment where they can kind of just gather. We all served in the same unit, they started this it was because we had lost, to date, we have lost ten to
suicide so far and that’s just from our unit alone. We served, James and I,
served two tours together James and Steve actually met as we’re coming in
he’s coming out from serving in Kuwait and we were going into Iraq. So we need to do something to help our
veterans, so we wanna try to bring them in and give them this opportunity to work on the farm. That dirt is very healing. Growing food together does more than put organic
freshness on the plate. From not only eating healthier foods but learning more about
it and teaching our kids how to eat healthy and teaching their kids how to
grow their own food and what better way to get soldiers to teach their kids and
their families involved it’s a way to bring the family together into a
community garden like this where they get together and start spending more time together
here between deployments and training for deployments, we know soldiers have
very little time with their family. I’ve never gardened before, it was something I
wanted to get the kids into to be a part of the community. I think community involvement is extremely important
so we just kind of picked this as our thing to do as a family. We try to
get them to do most of the planting, they enjoy digging in the dirt so they get
really excited when we hand them a little shovel, and they get to dig down and cover it up. So I think one of the biggest things with Riley is that she got to plant the seeds,
she got to water it and watch it grow and then she got to eat it and she was just
so excited. Girl Scouts built little beds for this year’s carrots. And Bell County Master Gardeners pitched in. We recommended the flowers and
vegetables and trees that get in this area and so then we put our plan on
paper and these people just did an amazing job. It is beautiful. They put in an underground water system
and they have harvested pounds and pounds of produce, and they leave it on the table
and everybody on post is welcome to come by and pick up fresh produce. They have
turned this not only into a garden for produce but people from all over post
meet here and they have different activities here and the youngsters are
meeting here having little garden parties and learning. The Master Gardeners well know why we
add flowers to our food gardens. A lot of times are vegetables look pretty shoddy
when it gets really hot in August and when we have these flowers it just
enhances it and it makes it pleasant It attracts bees and it attracts hummingbirds and it attracts all of our pollinators. And without our pollinators,
we don’t have anything to grow. Since pesticides are banned parents know their
kids can safely chow down. She can wander the garden without me worrying. She’s
learning that you can’t put mulch in your mouth but and she knows she can go and pick the
produce and put it in her mouth and, you know, it’s not something I have to worry about. Participants in the garden come and harvest, however anyone can get the food. A lot of times we’ll put the
food out on this table for example and it’s available for anyone to come by get it. You know, folks who work here, the children who manage this and do this they’re the ones that get first variety, if you will, but it is open to anybody. It started with feeding my
family and now we want to feed our country and since the farmers, the
average age of the farmer somewhere in the 60s who’s going to grow our food? Mexico? China? You know, we have to create food security here so the next mission for the veteran coming
home is to grow food for our country

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