Victory Garden at Camp Salute Provides Natural Outlet for Veterans

by Juliana Discher
May 27, 2021 10:25 AM ET

Camp Salute is a one of a kind veteran preferred affordable housing development. It is the first and only community in the U.S. to provide permanent housing to veterans, their families and surviving spouses of veterans. Members of our ScottsMiracle-Gro Northeast Sales Team have been involved since 2019 in establishing a victory garden for this community and it has continued to provide bountiful harvests and emotional benefits for community members and volunteers.

“Camp Salute provides housing and establishes a community for veterans who may not have a shot at a healthy lifestyle otherwise,” said Tom Wilhelm, District Market Manager and volunteer at the garden. “The Victory Garden is a space for them to be together and to relax and find some comfort in nature. The garden is fruitful too––it provides fresh food access to the 75 families who live here.”

Despite the onset of COVID-19 and being unable to host their usual large events, the group was able to yield 200 lbs. of harvest including zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. They added two raised vegetable beds, two cut flower beds and a run of sunflowers last year.

“ScottsMiracle-Gro has been at the forefront in continuing to provide us with Bonnie plants and Miracle-Gro Organic fertilizer," said Rich Gess, volunteer leader in the community. “I speak for all our residents when I say that you are bringing to them the beauty of the outdoors––-this is their backyard.”

This collaboration demonstrates ScottsMiracle-Gro’s continued commitment to veterans and their families. Our company was founded by a veteran in 1868 and veterans remain at the helm of our company’s leadership. We proudly support veterans through our Scotts Veterans Network. For Tom, this garden is a way to personally honor his brother-in-law Jon who is active duty in the Navy. 

“Veterans have sacrificed a lot for our country, and this is one small way we can honor them and say thank you,” said Tom. “A veteran’s mother and his grandmother recently visited the community housing and he brought them straight to the garden to relax and enjoy the garden’s beauty. She was over 100 years old and was overjoyed at the fresh tulips that Rich had clipped from the garden.”

This project has also allowed for partnerships with local environmental groups and for youth to get involved in the growing process.

“This year, our bluebird house yielded 4 fledglings and we were fortunate to have the New Jersey Bluebird Society band them on site,” said Rich. “Our Parsley patch (another Bonnie/Scotts donation) was particularly successful in supporting over 50 black swallowtail caterpillars which will be next year’s generation of butterflies. We are a National Wildlife Certified Garden and registered with Monarch Watch as a Monarch Waystation. We pride ourselves on engaging children with this work in an effort to develop future gardeners and nature lovers.”

The continued success of this project is a shining example of how our associates GroMoreGood in their communities around a cause they are passionate about.

“Our sales associates are interspersed throughout the whole United States which gives us the chance to impact our local communities where we call home,” said Tom. “In the philosophy of Horace Hagedorn, you can’t keep taking from the Earth, you must give something back. Our company empowers us to do that whenever and wherever we can.”

Learn more about how we support our veterans and active military.