The weather was chilly, but hearts were warm as a small group of volunteers gathered to dedicate and help begin a community garden in rural Grove.
Dubbed the Boy Scout Healing Garden of Grove, the effort is part of the Eagle Scout Project for James Plummer.
Plummer, 14, is a member of the Boy Scout Troop 78. His parents purchased and donated the land, located on what is locally known as Bill Berry Road, to create a three-acre garden.
In addition to produce, the garden will also feature a small orchard of fruit trees, with most being dedicated in someone's memory or honor.
On Tuesday, March 14, Plummer and his supporters gathered to offer a dedication prayer. The group then worked together to assemble the first two 4-foot by 32-foot above ground garden beds made from cinder blocks, recycled tires, sheets of tin and a blend of compost and soil.
Some volunteers, like Bob Weeks, came because the garden is being placed in their neighborhood.
Others like Sandy Sullins, with the Grand Lake Audubon Society, came to offer help with the butterfly and pollinator garden Plummer plans to add to the facility.
Chaplain Bill Wehlage, retired U.S. Army, and family friend to Plummer, came to the event to bless the efforts.
Wehlage said he was proud of Plummer's project, saying the young man was going above and beyond what is required for the Eagle Scout award by creating a sustainable community garden.
"You can tell the quality of leadership by the amount of effort," Wehlage said. "James has put a lot of effort into this. It's at least 10 times what is required. It's quite ambitious.
"This took coordination, planning and a massive fundraising effort, along with donations. This is a big deal."
Wehlage said he hoped eventually, as the garden continues, veterans will not only benefit from the produce and fruit harvested, but also find a place of solace and refuge among the plants.
"I think this is one more point of light in Grove, something that will do good by taking care of people," Wehlage said.
Local realtor Dustin Phillips attended the dedication representing Rep. Josh West (R-Grove), who was in Oklahoma City.
"This is a great thing for the kids," Phillips said. "It gets them out, learning about how their gardens grow and where food comes from."
Kate Sowers attended the event with her son, 5-year-old Grayson, saying she wanted him to learn about volunteering.
"I want him to learn about things that are needed for the community and to be involved," Sowers said. "Community service is very important.
Kathy Kirk, a new resident to Delaware County, brought her son, 9-year-old Ketcher to help with the project.
Ketcher, a third grader at Jay Elementary, said he enjoys helping others, because volunteering "gets our community to grow and be better."
More about the garden
This is Plummer's second healing garden. In 2016 he worked alongside more than 32 Grove-area Cub and Boy Scouts, and Delaware County 4-H'ers and FFA'ers, to plant more than 30 fruit trees on the grass lot next to the Jay Community Based Outpatient Veterans Clinic in Jay.
This time the project will include some fruit trees and several raised garden beds, designed to plant vegetables.
In both cases, Plummer said, he developed the gardens as a way to help feed people who might find it difficult to obtain fresh food including veterans, senior citizens and those who use local food banks such as the Christian H.E.L.P. Center.
Rhonda Sloan, with the NEOCAA Garden Project, has provided assistance to Plummer, teaching him how to build the raised beds and develop the weed free garden mixture.
In addition to monies raised through local donations and holiday candy sales, Plummer has also received grants through Katie's Krops, Fiskars 2016 Orange Thumb Grant, Delaware County Community Partnership and the Ottawa County Community Partners.
He plans to continue to sell fruit trees - including apple, cherry, peach, pear and plum - and place them within the garden as a way to honor or memorialize people within the community. Fruit obtained from those trees will be donated with a special card, indicating who the tree honors.
The garden is located at 29700 South 660 Road, Grove. For more information, persons interested may call Stephanie Plummer at 918-786-4711, 918-813-4422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seven fruit trees are among the first items being placed within the Boy Scout Healing Garden of Grove.
The trees have been donated in memory of the following people:
John W. Hendry, US Army, Afghanistan Conflict x 2
Gary Kinnaman, US Air Force, Vietnam Veteran
Col. Dale Hogan, US Air Force, Korean War & Vietnam War Veteran
Paul Bryant, US Army, Vietnam Veteran
William A. Hunt, US Navy, Vietnam Veteran