Veterans team up with Brookline farmer

To the Editor:

Cheryl Thompson, program manager at Harbor Homes’ BAE Independence Hall, a 26-apartment veteran housing facility located in Manchester, is passionate about helping her residents be their most healthy, prosperous and productive, which naturally includes eating well.

During the early months of this year, Cheryl had the vision to begin a vegetable garden in the backyard of the veterans’ building, and so began planning how to garner donations of supplies to get this idea off the ground.

During the past holiday season, Carolyn McLaughlin, an employee of Harbor Homes in Nashua, was at a Christmas party where her neighbor Ron Christie, owner of the Living Earth Farm in Brookline, excited to offer his assistance, asked her how he could get involved in helping Harbor Homes. It was serendipitous!

Thrilled by the prospect, an Independence Hall resident who is wheelchair bound got the other residents involved, and together they drew up a design and plan for building raised beds that allow anyone – even someone in a wheelchair – the ability to garden. Ron Christie donated materials, expertise and precious time up at Independence Hall to get the beds built and planted, and even designed a water wicking system that keeps the beds hydrated. The garden is already "bearing fruit!"

The veterans who reside at the Manchester facility have plans to come down to Brookline for a day to help Ron on his farm in hopes to give back to him in any way they can, since this is definitely the busiest season of the year on a New England farm. At the same time, the residents are getting exposure to yet another possible career path, and a deeper appreciation of what it takes to eat well.

Donna Albertelli Collins, M.Ed.

Development manager

Harbor Homes, Nashua