FORT KNOX, Ky. — There’s a new community garden coordinator at Fort Knox who aims to revive and improve upon the post’s garden after several years of inattention.Raven McGinnity, a former Army medic and current volunteer for Herbalists Without Borders, has a formal education in botany and more than a decade of gardening experience.“I’ve been gardening as long as me and my husband have been married, which is about 14 years, and about 10 years ago we started getting involved in community gardens when we were at Fort Belvoir,” she said. “I went to school for clinical herbal medicines, so plants are really the passion of our lives, and botany and growing your own are a big part of that.”McGinnity said she inadvertently took over as the community garden coordinator here.“We arrived here in February. When we came to the garden for the first time, the information posted was from 2017. It didn’t look well maintained, so we just kind of took over,” McGinnity said. “Shortly after, I was contacted by the previous year’s coordinator, who said it was fine that I was taking over because she was retiring anyway.”According to McGinnity, gardening remains a valuable skill.“Gardening is an act of empowerment, and knowing how to grow your own food helps you feel a little more prepared,” she said. “When COVID-19 hit, food seemed scarce at times. Knowing how to garden and grow your own food helps during these times to feel a little more in control in what feels like an out-of-control situation.”McGinnity said gardening also provides an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.“One of my favorite things about gardening is how it links generations together — even if we aren't related. I love listening to stories from our elders about what they learned over the years,” McGinnity said. “Gardening is something that was common in the older generations. Much wisdom comes from them, and gardening is a place to connect.”McGinnity said there is plenty of space available in the garden, but newcomers may have to work for it.“We have a few established plots left, but there is additional space, if it’s needed. However, it will take some effort to get those areas to where they’re ready to plant,” she said.McGinnity added that most of the tools and structural items one might need are already available at the garden, but participants will need to provide their own fresh seeds, plants, compost and top soil. She asks that those wishing to use pesticides consider organic solutions.“We try to stick with organic gardening — this is out of respect for the people who want to grow organically,” she said. “Organic Material Review Institute-listed products are readily available in garden stores, but people can also inquire for non-spray options for pest management, such as the introduction of beneficial bugs like ladybugs or praying mantises.”For those who are completely new to gardening, McGinnity said they shouldn’t be intimidated.“We’re a pretty low key bunch, so even if someone has never gardened before in their life, this is great place to do it,” she said. “We learn from and help each other, and it’s also a great place for kids.”In addition to the learning that goes on at the garden, McGinnity is working to arrange external educational opportunities.“We’ve got Modern Heritage Farm, which is a local community-supported agriculture farm, coming later this year to teach us about what we can plant over the winter as well as no-till organic farming methods,” she said.McGinnity said she will be at the garden Sundays and Wednesdays for about an hour starting at 8 a.m. to provide advice and help to fellow gardeners, but she stresses there are other valuable educational references on the topic.“There are also plenty of online resources and books available, but the best way to learn is to get out here and get your hands dirty,” McGinnity said. “Get the seeds in the soil, water them, harvest and enjoy!”___________________________________________________Editor’s note: For a complete list of garden rules as well as McGinnity’s contact info, click HERE [PDF - 55 KB].