By Rachel Parks, Sentinel Leisure EditorMarch 21, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Families from the Fort Hood Family Housing development, Comanche III, braved cool temperatures March 14, to take part in the grand opening of the community garden. The garden at Comanche III is one of four community gardens on Fort Hood.
Matt Wilbourn, a development manager with Fort Hood Family Housing, said the original vision for the community gardens came from Maj. Gen. Will Grimsley, deputy commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood.
"Fort Hood Family Housing and Lend Lease are committed to being good stewards of what we've been given," Wilbourn said. "These gardens have been designed to deliver a message of sustainability and green stewardship to our residents."
He added that the gardens in Fort Hood Family Housing communities offer opportunities for kids and adults to learn several important lessons, including "responsibility, ownership and being good stewards of the environment."
Wilbourn said the gardens are now in the hands of the Community Gardening Clubs and the individuals and groups who will be working to grow and sustain the flowers, fruits and vegetables.
"The ongoing success will not be possible without the members of the Community Gardening Club," he added. He encouraged kids, teens and families to get involved in the process at the gardens in Comanche III, Walker, Montague and Chaffee housing developments.
He said that he hopes to see the program expand in the future.
"If this takes off and really becomes a gang buster and there's more desire for it, we can always look at adding more in some of the other places," Wilbourn said.
One member of the gardening club who was happy to take part in the opening ceremony was 13-year-old Peyton Riggs. As a member of the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Crusaders, the catholic youth ministry at Fort Hood, Riggs said she and the other members of the group are going to be active in the garden in the coming months.
"If we all take part in it, it's a community activity and you get to take part in it with your friends," Riggs said after planting carrot seeds.
Michele Carter, one of the adult supervisors of the group, said the kids and teens were excited to take part in the community garden.
"They'll be learning something new," Carter said. "Many of these youth have never done anything like this before. We're looking forward to it."
The gardens were made possible by donations and support from local businesses and organizations. Michelle Wallace, the communication director for Fort Hood Family Housing, also presented a check for $10,000 from The Actus Community Fund, the nonprofit organization of Lend Lease.
Wallace said that to get into the spirit of the community gardens, members of the Fort Hood Family Housing branch also were taking part in a gardening project.
"We also created a community garden," she said. "We feel we have to lead by example so FHFH (Fort Hood Family Housing) employees will be planting and maintaining it."
The community garden was officially opened by Col. Mark Freitag, the Fort Hood garrison commander, who cut the ribbon with community mayors and Wilbourn. Following the ribbon cutting and seed planting, community members took part in a party at the Comanche III Community Center with face painting, balloon art and plenty of food.
Wallace added that anyone interested in learning about the community gardens can contact their community center representatives or mayors.