Veteran garden is blossoming in Fond du Lac

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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - A raised-bed garden in Fond du Lac is bringing more to veterans and the community than anyone ever expected. The Veteran thrive Garden was meant to be therapeutic, a place for veterans to get their hands dirty and decompress but it really has become a place for the entire community to enjoy.

Food and other plants thriving in the Veterans Thrive Garden in Fond du Lac (WBAY photo)

It was last September when Salute the Troops, a Fond du Lac based organization that helps veterans and their families, installed a raised bed garden in the empty lot across from its headquarters. Nearly a year later, the Veteran thrive Garden is lush and full of life.

"Literally behind me you can see everything that's coming up. And right now it's tomatoes and we have green beans for days. We have nasturtiums that are really good on your salad, they're a wonderful decorative flower, but they taste like pepper. So, so many things that I'm learning that I didn't even know you could plant," says Kim Galske, Executive Director of Salute the Troops.

A place for veterans to come and work, as part of garden therapy, the thrive garden has proven to be an asset the veteran population. Joe Ruppenthal is a disabled veteran who finds himself working the garden often.

According to Ruppenthal, "At my home across the street, I don't have enough room to have a real garden. I have flowers but I didn't have any vegetables so when they started the garden here I was thrilled."

While the garden has meant so much to the veterans who come here to work and seek solace, the bountiful harvest has really impacted the community.

Galske adds, "There's no fence around it for a reason, that if you need it you're going to come and we want you to eat. That's not my garden, it's the community's garden but it's for veteran therapy, so we just like to come together and dig in the dirt and I think that's been the biggest benefit is that so many people have come and eaten and the more that they take the more that grows."

With the garden continuing to bloom, Salute the Troops hopes those who need it will take advantage of its harvest, as the organization continues to plant good deeds not only locally but in the veteran community too.