FORT KNOX, Ky. — When Alisyn Kandybowicz arrived at Fort Knox in 2022 and took over as the new Fort Knox Community Garden coordinator, the project was on the chopping block.
Fort Knox and Knox Hills leaders were considering converting it back into a grassy space due to a lack of interest. An orange building, a stained rusting sign and a couple of wooden blocks were basically all that remained.
What a difference six months can make.
“I saw that land and thought, ‘Oh my gosh there’s so much potential here,’” said Kandybowicz. “I made a map of what I envisioned for it, and this is exactly what it was.”
That little plot of land is now home to tomatoes, zucchinis, strawberries and grapevines, and a lot of laughter, fun and enjoyment – even a newborn fawn recently made its way there. Kandybowicz said the Fort Knox community has responded in full force after she asked them to get involved.
The enthusiasm has also spread off post. Businesses have sponsored wood, equipment and products for the different zones of the garden. Individuals have constructed compost bins, rain gutters, arbors, arches and places to sit and relax.
One spot in what Kandybowicz calls the Peace Garden features a wooden swing donated by the Fort Knox Spouses and Community Club. A woodworking company is building a 12-foot picnic table. And somebody else has donated concrete to provide a user-friendly gardening pad for those in wheelchairs.
“Ms. Maria Bell, a Kentucky Colonel, is doing a blessing box for us and trying to get it sponsored so that families who are in a food crisis can come here,” said Kandybowicz. “There will be food here for them when they need it.”
Kandybowicz admits that while she worked to create an environment of community sponsorship, participation and enthusiasm for the garden, it took the community to make it happen. And maybe timing, too.
“Coming out of COVID, there’s just this hunger for community that people have found here,” said Kandybowicz. “I call it ‘social horticulture.’ You come here, everybody has a job, but you’re meeting people who are like minded, and who care to give back to the community.
“This garden has thrived because literally every corner of the installation, the schools, services, on post, off post, everybody has pitched in because they just love how the community is coming together.”
Editor’s Note: If you wish to get involved in adding to the growth of the garden, call Alisyn Kandybowicz at 602-284-5406, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.