Victory Gardens for Veterans at Together We Grow!
We celebrate our amazing veteran gardeners for July 4th.
Newark, July 2, 2019: Together We Grow Community Gardens held our first Victory Gardens for Veterans BBQ at our 6th Street garden! Veteran gardeners and their families came together to connect with one another, enjoy a good burger, and share their gardening experiences with each other.
Together We Grow originally started our Victory Gardens for Veterans program in 2017. We wanted to create a space for local veterans and their families to spend time together and utilize the therapeutic value of gardening. However, with little responses to our events we just about gave up! That is until we realized that we were already serving up to 20 veteran gardeners who rented garden beds each summer! So instead of looking outward, we spent some time looking inward and got to know all of our veteran gardeners. We began offering free garden beds to these veterans, put up flags at their garden plots to recognize their service, and organized our first-ever Victory Gardens for Veterans BBQ.
At this event, we handed out surveys to our attendees in an effort to learn more about their service history, their interests and how we can better serve them in the future. We realized quickly, after listening to their stories, that all of our veterans had such amazingly diverse backgrounds yet all seemed to share similar interests and a strong sense of comradery. It was such a special experience for us to watch these former military men and women, all from different generations, different wars, different branches, come together in their similarities. We hope that the more we bring our veterans together the more this comradery will grow in our gardens.
These amazing men and women are just too special to keep all to ourselves. So to kick off our newly born Victory Gardens for Veterans Program, we’d like to regularly share Veteran Profiles with the community. What better time to start than July 4th! The following is our first ever TWG Veteran of the Month Profile. Enjoy!
TWG Veteran of the Month- Robert L. Taggart
Robert Taggart, pictured on the right, is a 20-year veteran of the United States Army, where he worked as a Telecommunications Specialist. This is his first season gardening with Together We Grow. Robert is an avid gardener and, due to a back injury, has been tabletop gardening in containers on his back porch for years. When he moved to a new community, however, he learned that the HOA does not permit such gardening. We were thrilled when he called Together We Grow to ask if we have a spare table at one of our gardens. “Of course we do! Come on out to 6th Street! We’ve got the perfect spot.”, said Pam Roberts, our executive director. He’s been such a warm and friendly addition to our community garden.
He’ll try growing just about anything he can eat and loves being outside, getting his hands dirty in the soil. Robert views gardening as an important survival skill and, so, shares any knowledge he can with fellow gardeners. He currently is growing corn in one of his containers as you can see in the picture above, and it’s probably about 6 feet tall now!
We like to ask our veterans to share any specific memories or collection of memories significant to them during their service. We will let you read Robert’s response in his words exactly.
“Square dancing throughout Europe. There is no German or Japanese language equivalent to modern American Square Dancing movements. “Allemande Left” is an Allemande Left no matter what language the caller speaks. Square dancing is friendship put to music.”
So wholesome! If that doesn’t just tug at your heartstrings, then I don’t know what will. We love you Robert and all the joy and knowledge you bring to our gardens.
If you would like to learn more about Together We Grow, are a Veteran or know a Veteran who would be interested in joining our crew, then head on over to togetherwegrowgardens.org and join our mailing list! You can also find us on Facebook or Instagram at Together We Grow Gardens.
Together We Grow is a nonprofit organization located in Newark, Oh. Our mission is to provide food, education, training, and work opportunities for the residents of Licking County and to improve the quality of life for those who may be living in poverty. We have 6 community and 5 school gardens, all strategically placed in lower-income areas to help those who may be dealing with food insecurity on a regular basis. We envision gardens all over Licking County, which will not only feed the growers but will provide enriching educational experiences, improve self-confidence and job training; all of this while improving the look and health of our neighborhoods.