Veterans garden

Volunteers Aydrien O’Grady, from left, and Travis Collins, and resident Bill Atterberry use shovels Saturday to load dirt into wheelbarrows at the Lee Crossley Veterans Community Center in Temple. The dirt was transported to the back of the meeting center building and used to fill above ground planter boxes for the new garden at the center.

A 300-square-foot “healing garden” was starting to take shape Saturday morning behind the community center of the Lee Crossley Veterans Community, on Honor Lane in Temple.

Amber Kelley, a city of Temple stormwater specialist, said it was a joint effort by the city, Keep Temple Beautiful, Girl Scout Troop 8226 and the Un-Included Club. About 30 volunteers worked on the raised-bed garden and on planting trees.

“Programs like this help the community as a whole,” Kelley said. “We’re all chipping in and helping the veterans. We’re building the planters. They’ll be wheelchair accessible.”

Covering the backyard with soil and using crushed granite for pathways, she said at mid-morning, would probably be a two-day project.

The volunteers planted 10 oak trees earlier, she said — five in front and five in back — to improve the beauty of the neighborhood and help with the water runoff.

Christi Cheek of Temple, troop leader of the Scouts, had six girls working. That meant attacking a pile of dirt in the front yard with grubbing hoes, shoveling the dirt into wheelbarrows and pushing them around the side of the house to the backyard.

“This is a great project,” Cheek said. “We’re excited to do something out of our realm, a little more physical.”

Her 5-year-old daughter Blaire loves this kind of work, she said, and asked: “Can I dig more dirt?”

Kelley said the girls put in a lot of effort.

“Thankfully, the firefighters came out and helped,” she said.

Doree Collins, Un-Included Club director, said she had about seven club members working on the project, and hoped to have more next Saturday.

“This is a healing, holistic approach for the veterans,” she said. “We’ve done cooking classes with them and will continue to do that. Now they can have a garden to pull food from, so we’ll have a garden-to-table cooking opportunity.”

The garden will probably have such plants as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and cantaloupes, she said.

Her husband, Travis, and their daughter, Dayla, 14, were among the volunteers. Dayla said the first step of the garden work was to fill in the back portion of the yard until it was level. Her gardening experience with the Un-Included Club hasn’t made her an expert, she said.

“I know the basics,” she said.

Nate Watts, the club’s chief of operations, was helping to level the soil

“It’s very fun right now,” he said.

She agreed.

“Especially today, because it’s not hot or too cold,” she said.

In a previous statement, Tanya Gray, Keep Temple Beautiful executive director, noted that building the Lee Crossley Veterans Community to house 26 veterans was a collaborative effort. Keep Temple Beautiful, Patco Construction/Citizens for Progress and Habitat for Humanity were the three key partners, she said.