CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 2, 2015) -- The grand opening of the Camp Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area Community Garden was held June 30 on the SFHA installation.

The Community Garden idea came about from the work of Aryana Mithwani, 12, who used this garden project as part of her Silver Award project for the Camp Zama Girls Scouts.

"The Silver Award project develops girls to be leaders who are organized, determined and dedicated to improving their community," said Aryana; it is the highest award a Girl Scout cadet can earn and 50 hours or more of community service is needed for this award.

"You need to find a need in the community and fulfill that need," said Aryana.

Aryana said her mother originally told her about how community members on the Community Facebook page stressed their desires for a place to garden their produce.

After doing the "leg work" for the garden by making contacts with key stakeholders in the community to find a place to establish the garden, gathering support from community members and by forming a committee, Aryana spoke with the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Commander, Col. Joy Curriera, to seek permission to start the community garden.

Once the project was approved, Aryana said she and other community members worked hard to gather materials and set up the garden.

Aryana and her garden committee were able to rope-off 36 individual plots for community members to establish their own small gardens in one localized area.

"I set up the garden for the (community) to be able to come together as a community," said Aryana.

"This all started with the buzz around the community about a need that needed to be fulfilled," said Curriera.

It really does take a community to accomplish a project such as this; the perfect situation came about and Aryana jumped on this opportunity, said Curriera.

"All I did was just say yes," said Curriera.

"I was just amazed that by the time I said yes," Curriera continued, that the community garden was ready to go and be open to the community.

Curriera said that she is "so proud" of Aryana for taking on this idea. "She is certainly an example for so many other girls in our community."

Maria Hayashi, a community member, said the Camp Zama/SFHA Community Garden is wonderful for the entire community.

"It gives us a place where people can come and meet each other and it is something new for the kids to do this summer," said Hayashi.

As many of our residents can come together and maybe even share gardening advice and ideas about what they grow here, that sense of community is another way we can bring that togetherness to our Army families, said Curriera.

"First and foremost, this garden stands for community," Curriera continued.

Aryana said she hope to see the community garden become a recreational area and a gathering spot for the community.

"I am really glad that everyone came together and work together to get this set up. It would have been really hard (to do) without the support of the community," said Aryana.