FORT KNOX, Ky. – Fort Knox has a new face heading up social horticulture efforts.
The Fort Knox Community Garden offers cultivation enthusiasts a place to come together and share their passion for planting and growing. As the new garden coordinator, Alisyn Kandybowicz said she’s anxious to bring her experience to the green space.
“The garden is a beacon of mental and physical health for me,” said Kandybowicz. “My motto is ‘bloom where you’re planted.’”
Kandybowicz previously served as the community garden coordinator when her Family was stationed in Texas. She said since arriving here, she’s been working on some exciting changes for the Fort Knox space, the first of which will be a unique new setup.
“Usually with a community garden, a location is provided for people to garden on their own,” said Kandybowicz. “We’re doing something different this year.”
Kandybowicz said she’s created a more cooperative style garden with a single overall plan where community members can adopt different projects, so everyone can sign up for weekly and monthly tasks according to their interests.
“There’s a tomato project, a sunflower project, a pumpkin patch and so many others,” said Kandybowicz. “With this plan, we’re learning together, but everyone can focus on individual areas.”
According to Kandybowicz, the new plan provides opportunities to collaborate with fellow gardeners or find quiet time alone, if preferred.
“Each person will take care of their project, and we’ll all kind of help each other too,” said Kandybowicz. “There’s also an option to have your own plot.”
Each year, there is a focused theme for the community garden. Kandybowicz said this year’s will help unite different organizations on post.
“Our 2023 mission is ‘Food Forest,’” said Kandybowicz. “Its main target is food and security through the education of gardening and nutrition. We’ve partnered with the Army Physical Resilience Work Group and the Red Cross Helping Hands Food Pantry on post.
“Any excess produce goes to the food pantry.”
Kandybowicz said she’s thrilled knowing the food grown in the garden will go directly to sustaining the community.
“I think the most exciting thing about it is that our mission is to target the food and security of each other right here at Fort Knox,” said Kandybowicz. “We’re helping one another by providing the produce.”
Kandybowicz explained the harvested crops will be available in a tiered fashion. Those who work the individual projects will have priority for what they’ve helped grow. After that, garden members will be notified of any excess available, and all remaining produce will be donated to Helping Hands.
In addition to this year’s new garden layout, Kandybowicz said another update will be made to the aging sign. She came up with a fun way not only to update it but involve the community in its creation.
“We recruited seven contestants tasked to design a new sign,” said Kandybowicz. “They are the five schools on post, and then the School Age Center and Devers Teen Center.”
Kandybowicz said each contestant is taking a different approach. For instance, she said the art club at Scott is working on the sign, whereas every student at Kingsolver is designing one and the school will then vote on a winner.
Once all signs are complete, Fort Knox Garrison Commander Col. Lance O’Bryan will be tasked with choosing the winners. First and second place will each be hung on opposite sides of the main sign, third place will be located at the garden entrance, and the remaining four will be hung around the garden in different locations.
Winners will be revealed at the garden’s opening day event, which Kandybowicz said doesn’t only mark the start of spring—
“March 20 will also kick off our planting season,” said Kandybowicz. “It’s going to be weather dependent, but that’s when we’re going to start getting things going.”
Although the garden is the property of Knox Hills, Kandybowicz encouraged any interested members of the installation, whether living on or off post, to participate. She said there will also be a gardening class held March 4 to teach the basics of planting vegetables.
Whether participants are seasoned gardeners or beginners, Kandybowicz said she hopes the new updates will revitalize interest and show Fort Knox the value the community garden brings.
“It’s serving to educate the community, along with providing a place to socialize,” said Kandybowicz. “It brings like-minded people here to make friends.”
Editor’s note: For more information or to receive garden updates, text Alisyn Kandybowicz at 602-284-5406 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.