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Family grows together through gardening

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Solomon Cook
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Current COVID-19 lockdowns have restricted most Airmen from their usual gatherings, but one family here found a way for people to gather on a strip of cultivated land where they can nurture their future harvest and relationships. 

Lt. Col. Paul Fredin, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, did this by reinstituting the Scott Garden Plot program, which also brings a quality of life improvement to Airmen and their families. The old Scott Garden Plot had been abandoned so it could be repurposed into a mobility training area.  The new one can be found between the Scott Inn and the MetroLink Station on Enlisted Drive.

“This location was selected because it had land that was previously undeveloped and has full southern exposure for sun,” Fredin explained. “This location has wonderful black soil that should produce good crops. It is a great piece of land for a garden, and I really like taking our kids out to the garden. It is good to make them work to develop a strong work ethic. I grew up on a farm and work was just something you did growing up. You didn’t get paid for it on an hourly basis. It was just what you did, and we didn’t think twice about it.”

Fredin uses this opportunity to help his family stay connected by disconnecting from the outside world. As he puts it, “There are no electronic devices -- just dirt and work.” This mantra is something that he believes would be beneficial to members of his Air Force family.

“The goal of [having garden plots] is to give Airmen and their families a chance to work together in the garden and learn more about where our food comes from,” he said. “It is a chance to work outside in the fresh air with your family.” 

There were 40 plots which filled up quickly and currently the last of the irrigation system is being installed through cooperation with American Water and the CE Water and Fuel Systems Maintenance Shop. Even though water is privatized on base, the project helped to keep Airmen’s skills sharp and also provided training on installing a new water main.

In a day and age where Airmen can simply go to the supermarket and procure produce, there is something special about growing your own plants to feed yourself or your family, Fredin said.  Gardening also reminds him of his time with his grandparents and is something he hopes to pass on to his children.

His daughter Katen, said, “This is my first year in 4-H and I’m learning a lot about gardening and how it works.  Hopefully my vegetables do well, and I’ll be able to take them to the fair. I think gardening is beneficial because we get fresher foods and know where they came from. I think our tomatoes taste better than from the store. When we go to the garden, we all work on our own thing which contributes to the entire garden doing well. I like being out there with my family because when we all work together, we get more done.”

For anyone still interested in obtaining a garden plot, please call 618-256-2701 to be put on a waiting list as sometimes plots can be available due to PCSing or other circumstances.