Wolf Pack Airmen dedicate community garden
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Wolf Pack members added the final touches to the Wolf Pack Garden with a grand opening ceremony in front of the Sonlight Inn April 22.
Volunteers have been steadily working on the garden since March 14, with the official dedication ceremony culminating their efforts with an official ribbon cutting and planting the garden's first fruits and vegetables. "We originally planned to open the garden before Earth Day," said Lt. Col. Dwayne "Shepherd" Jones, 8th Fighter Wing chaplain. "When we realized that Earth Day was just around the corner, we decided to postpone the official opening because it would be more meaningful to do it that day."
The first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, saw the participation of 20 million Americans from all walks of life, and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Forty-five years later, more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
"I think Earth Day is really symbolic," said Shepherd. "We, as stewards of the Earth, are planting and giving life and creating great opportunities for the Wolf Pack."
Before the idea of having a Wolf Pack Garden sprung to life, a small 5-by-5-foot enclosed area containing a few herbs sat in front of the Sonlight Inn. After the addition of two 13-foot expansions with a base of gravel and soil, the garden now fits over 150 plants.
"It started just as a small square box in the middle and now we have something that looks real nice," said Capt. Jordan Kieliszewski, 8th Medical Operation Squadron mental health element chief. "I'm pleased with how it looks and the help and support that we have received. A lot of people over the last month have contributed so much to make this happen."
Komang Goins, Kunsan's Sonlight Inn director, coordinated volunteers to start the garden and will also organize helpers to maintain it.
"We need to focus on the next steps," said Goins. "About every two weeks we'll have to coordinate to have people tend the garden by weeding, watering and preparing for the harvest in the fall."
Although there is more to be done, the work accomplished so far has caught the eyes of many on base.
"People have passed by the garden and I've been watching and waiting for it to come to this moment," said Shepherd. "The Wolf Pack can see life growing and what we, as a community, have done. It's very therapeutic and it's contagious in promoting healthy living."
Tech. Sgt. Crystal Ballard, 8th FW command chief executive assistant, agreed that gardening is relaxing, but has even more meaning at Kunsan.
"Events like this are great because it allows the Wolf Pack to come together and be a part of something bigger than themselves," said Ballard. "It also fosters teamwork and creativity."
The community garden was spurred by Bill Goins, 8th MDOS health promotion program coordinator, who proposed it as an initiative to promote healthy eating at the Wolf Pack.
"It has been a long journey to see this project come to fruition," said Goins. "It is very satisfying to receive the support that we have seen, and I just hope it adds another layer of improved resilience for Airmen at Kunsan."
If you would like to take part in helping with the Wolf Pack Garden, contact the 8th FW Chapel at 782-4300.