For veterans at the Bath VA Medical Center, taking care of their vegetable garden is a labor of love — and nostalgia.
“You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy,” said Floyd Degraw.
Degraw grew up on a farm, and decades later, he’s still farming. He, along with other volunteers, spent the summer planting and harvesting vegetables.
“I enjoyed this very much. Got outside as often as I could,” said Bob Snyder.
The vegetables are not only used in the meals at the VA Center, but also donated to Catholic Charities.
“That enables them to get out and do something that’s meaningful to them,” said Bath VA Medical Center Recreation Therapist Kellie Okoniewski.
On Tuesday, the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Red Cross, and other community leaders, gathered for a special ceremony to dedicate the garden.
“It warms my heart. It’s indescribable how good it makes them feel; gives them a sense of purpose,” said Linda Conway with Red Cross Finger Lakes Chapter.
They grow a variety of different vegetables in their garden — everything from zucchinis to squash, tomatoes, peppers, corn and onions. So far, they’ve donated 600 pounds of vegetables to local charities.
An outstanding accomplishment, but more than that, gardening, they say, helps veterans reduce stress and anxiety.
“They always had a garden when they were home. We try to make it like their home here,” said Okoniewski.
Garden activities are used at the facility for rehabilitation, mental health and stress reduction programs. TWCNews