Individuals from both the M.A.S.H. Pantry and Resource Center in Delaware and Stockhands Horses for Healing gathered on July 27 at Stockhands for a dedication ceremony for the M.A.S.H. & Stockhands Veteran Honor Garden located at 3788 Olentangy River Road in Delaware.

Courtesy photo

The Military and Service Heroes (M.A.S.H.) Pantry and Resource Center and Stockhands Horses for Healing held a dedication ceremony on July 27 for the veteran honor garden located on the Stockhands property at 3788 Olentangy River Road in Delaware.

Under the M.A.S.H. Veteran Honor Greenhouse/Garden program, community gardens are grown so that produce may be given back to local veterans posts and first responders in the area at no cost.

Although the gardens are for the primary benefit of veterans, all produce is sent back into the community in some fashion. If excess produce exists, a free community giveaway will be held, as was the case Saturday at 222 E. William St.

The Stockhands garden is one of three honor gardens located in Delaware. The other two locations are the Department of Ohio American Legion and the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Lazarus, which is a private garden tended to by the camp and Delaware Area Career Center. Six additional locations exist across Franklin, Ross, Marion and Pickaway counties.

While the garden at Stockhands has existed since 2020, a dedication ceremony was unable to be held at the time. Amber Hudson, a Navy veteran and the founder of M.A.S.H., said the two organizations wanted to hold the ceremony to let the community know about the garden and to encourage people to lend a helping hand.

“We would love for the community to get involved,” Hudson told The Gazette. “This is a very veteran-oriented, patriotic community, and we would love for people to rally around them.”

Co-founded by Tim Funk, a military veteran himself, and Lisa Benton, Stockhands serves as a therapeutic riding center that offers equine-assisted activities geared toward both children and adults with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities. The 38-acre facility includes an indoor riding area, outdoor arenas, a mile of riding trails, and expansive gardening space. Stockhands also has a veterans program, which is offered for free and focuses on the basics of riding and, above all, camaraderie.

Stockhands’ emphasis on helping veterans made for a natural partnership with M.A.S.H. as a location for an honor garden.

“We love their passion. They try to meet the needs of the veterans just as we do, which is to meet them where they are,” Hudson said of Stockhands. “It’s been a fantastic partnership … All of the central Ohio veterans organizations and businesses work hand-in-hand together, so we’re among a lot of fantastic people.”

Hudson went on to say of the garden program, “I think we need some patriotism in the first place. I think bringing people together and having a sense of community is important. It’s teaching people how to plant. Eventually, we’ll have educational classes on canning and different ideas like that. It’s just one more way to pay it forward to our local heroes for their sacrifices.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Stockhands, call 614-318-5781 or send an email to [email protected]. For more information on opportunities with M.A.S.H., call 614-522-1555 or send an email to [email protected].

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.