Veterans grow as gardeners with lessons at Cantigny
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."