Reposted with permission from ABC News team Ashville, NC.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — It was a final parting request from Jeff Powell’s US Navy Commanding Officer, ‘continue supporting military men and women.’ Powell took those words to heart launching a number of 4-Veterans initiatives.
Veteran digs in to help fellow Veterans with a harvest for heroes
News 13’s Carolina Moment takes you inside Powell’s latest growing effort to create a harvest for local heroes.
“Just kind of rake it up around here in a circle,” said Jeff Powell to his son Jeremiah.
“This is family property, this is not my property, but there wasn’t any hesitation in saying, ‘hey, I want to grow a garden’, ‘go ahead, it’s all yours, you can just do whatever you like,’ so,” said Powell. “It is the Veteran’s Garden.”
Every pull of the rake, easing a Veteran’s burden.
“So, I’m just fortifying it with dirt, questioned Jeremiah, tending to the plants with his dad.
“I thought about a garden given that the cost of food is extremely high,” explained Powell of the recent effort. “These are Collard greens, 42 collard greens, three rows of mustard greens, three rows of turnip greens, and a row of onions.”
It’s a labor of love, requiring daily attention.
“Break it up a little bit, there you go, wonderful,” said Powell directing his young helper.
Tending to the garden also affords Powell peace and time with his son.
“The plants grow pretty fast,” said Jeremiah surveying their efforts.
“Teaching him how to grow plants from the seed, and take care of the soil,” is fulfilling to Powell who hopes one day his son may follow in his footsteps in serving the community.
Powell’s hard work recently weathered Hurricane Ian, only to be threatened by what Powell described as, “an unexpected guest.”
“It was a whole lot of greenery the groundhog ate. They will come back, they’ll be pretty much nice vegetables, it will take them another month, but they will come back,” said Powell.
The groundhog was able to munch about half of the 42 collard plants. Powell was able to capture the creature the day we were at the garden and had plans to release it, somewhere safe.
Powell’s perseverance proves that even a backyard project can yield impactful results.
“I really wanted to help, I didn’t have the funding to help, and they said you can do it you can use it as a hobby you can help and I never imagined how big it would get,” said Powell. “It don’t have to be big at all, something manageable for whatever situation that the individual’s in and they can pretty much go from there.”
Powell, who plans to give some of the garden’s yield to the Veteran’s Restoration Quarters and a local food bank, challenges others to take action by striking up their own projects.
“I challenge them and say hey, gather some programs, get a pilot program get with the VA and help these guys and girls start some hobbies that can really, really help them,” said Powell.
It will be another month before the Powells are ready to harvest.
“At the beginning of November, and the ones that the groundhog ate some of the leaves off of, that may come around December,” said Powell.
Just in time to honor those who served on Veteran’s Day and add some relief for holiday meals.
“The local thing is where you start because I believe charity begins at home, and so I can do things overseas, Instagram webinars and whatever else but I think the biggest part of it is to start helping veterans around here,” said Powell.
You can find more information on Jeff Powell’s 4-Veterans initiatives below: