Veterans grow as gardeners with lessons at Cantigny

  • Army veteran Laura Benevelli of Burbank holds a giant bag of vegetables that she harvested Saturday at the gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton as part of a program for veterans run by master gardeners.

      Army veteran Laura Benevelli of Burbank holds a giant bag of vegetables that she harvested Saturday at the gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton as part of a program for veterans run by master gardeners. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Fritz Porter looks over vegetables that veterans grow and harvest at the gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. A group of veterans involved with the Aurora Vet Center tends the gardens each Saturday morning during the growing season.

      Fritz Porter looks over vegetables that veterans grow and harvest at the gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. A group of veterans involved with the Aurora Vet Center tends the gardens each Saturday morning during the growing season. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Army veteran Kenneth Williams of Chicago harvests from gardens Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

      Army veteran Kenneth Williams of Chicago harvests from gardens Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Veterans work in and harvest from gardens Saturday morning at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, where they gather once a week during the growing season for a brief lesson and some hands-on work.

      Veterans work in and harvest from gardens Saturday morning at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, where they gather once a week during the growing season for a brief lesson and some hands-on work. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Veterans work in and harvest a variety of vegetables from gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, where they learn from master gardeners and practice their skills each week.

      Veterans work in and harvest a variety of vegetables from gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, where they learn from master gardeners and practice their skills each week. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/27/2018 7:41 AM

Growing what one leader described as "just about every vegetable imaginable" together in a small section of Cantigny Park in Wheaton, veterans and master gardeners learn from and bond with each other.

A gardening program, run through Cantigny Park, the Aurora Vet Center and the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton, brings military veterans to nature once a week during the growing season for a short lesson and some hands-on time in the sprouts and vines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Master gardeners Fritz Porter of Glen Ellyn and Logan Wasson of Naperville teach a team of veterans from the Vietnam and Gulf wars the basics of vegetable gardening with a long list of Midwest-suited crops, including tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, winter squash, beets and carrots.

Social as well as educational, the gardening gives a dozen or more veterans each week a chance to talk with each other and their instructors, Porter said. It's especially beneficial for veterans of various ages.

"The generations are pretty excited to talk about their experiences," Porter said. "And every so often do some gardening."

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