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In 2012, the Caldwell Veterans Garden got its first breath of life. The founders, the inspiration behind The Caldwell Veterans Garden, were a mother of a veteran, a veteran and an individual passionate about the community: Gayle Strack, Carla Berg and Randy Jensen, respectively. The three also share a common bond in that they are Realtors.

The intent behind the Garden was to provide a sanctuary, if you will, for Veterans not only in Caldwell, but for any Veteran of any branch of service in the area. What is unusual about this project is that the Garden is truly a grass roots effort.

In 2012, the city of Caldwell donated an infill piece of land located at the end of West Belmont Street in Caldwell to the cause. Coming out of the recession, with limited private financial backing, the garden faced challenges. At the end of 2013, the garden had only one empty raised garden bed and approximately a quarter acre.

Typically a project of this nature, from start to finish, costs thousands of dollars. Kudos to the three founders of the Caldwell Veteran’s Garden for having a dream and the determination to initiate the project.

In early 2014, the Caldwell Board of Realtors saw a need and offered help. The board applied for and received a $2,500 grant (of which $1,500 has been received) from the National Association of Realtors to aide with some of the infrastructure. With help from The Caldwell board, local business owners, the city of Caldwell and many enthusiastic volunteers, the garden has “grown” to almost an acre of land with far more than $2,500 worth of improvements.

Great community partners, local businesses and the Caldwell board were collectively instrumental in constructing a first-class gazebo, durable raised garden beds, a lighted flag pole with an American flag and a five-military-branch flag, as well as a beautiful custom-built garden entry arch to honor all five branches of the armed forces and those who have served.

With a project of this magnitude, many resources are needed, from financial contributions to man-hours and manpower. When the Caldwell Veterans Garden reached out to The Caldwell board for assistance, we were happy to help.

The Caldwell Veterans Garden and the Caldwell Board of Realtors may be separate entities, but we share an unparalleled compassion for our veterans and community. We will continue to support the Caldwell Veterans Garden and similar projects throughout the community. I would encourage you to visit veteranstherapeutic

gardens.org for more information on how you can help with this project.

* Stephanie Rohrdanz is president of the Caldwell Board of Realtors.

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