student gardner planning

Volunteers honor veterans, cultivate skills for the entire community

August 5, 2015
Patrick Lantz, a Purdue Master Gardener from Allen County, designed and maintained a demonstration g

Patrick Lantz gets a lot out of gardening.

“I get the opportunity to be creative, grow something, and produce something that I can see and like,” says Lantz.

And gardening gives Lantz, a Purdue Extension Master Gardener volunteer, an opportunity to give something to his community. He designed and maintained a demonstration garden in the Purdue Master Gardener demonstration gardens in Fort Wayne. The gardens offer more than just a relaxing pastime for volunteers, they teach members of the community about gardening. Allen County’s 320 active Master Gardener volunteers donated more than 18,000 hours in the community last year. And volunteers around the state donated more than 164,000 hours, a value of nearly $3.5 million.

The volunteers give more than just their time: their personalities are clearly evident in the resulting gardens.

“If somebody is a woods person, there’s a woodland garden,” Lantz says. “If somebody likes vegetables, there’s a vegetable garden. If somebody wants to be a scientist, there’s the trial garden. They’re all very well maintained, and they’re actually quite attractive.”

The garden also is a tribute to veterans. The sign out front reads, “A garden to honor and thank our nation’s service members and their families.” That was the idea of Ricky Kemery, the Purdue Extension educator in Allen County who coordinates the Master Gardener program. The garden has donated more than 400 pounds of fresh produce to a homeless shelter that also serves veterans. Around the state, Purdue Master Gardener demonstration gardens donate about 50,000 pounds a year. But for Lantz, the garden also is a tribute to life and nature.

“Once it gets started, God takes over and all you got to do is water and feed it and hope you get lucky,” Lantz says.

Purdue Extension is making a difference for Hoosiers everywhere. Find out how.

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