OCEANSIDE — The Veterans Association of North County (VANC) board of directors has had its sights set on establishing the Veterans’ Honor Garden practically since the veterans’ resource center on Mission Avenue opened.
Plans are to create an inspirational outdoor space for events, personal reflection and to convey thanks to the sacrifices military men, women and their families make to serve our country.
“We know we want something special and outstanding for our veterans,” Joe Ashby, honor garden committee chairman, said.
The plot of land outside the resource center designated for the garden is about 10,000 square feet. The vision for the garden space is to include landscaping, pathways, statues, salvaged military vehicles and a water feature that collectively inspire a sense of patriotism. The garden will also include needed irrigation, drainage, seating, shade areas and lighting.
“We want something truly unique that people will come out of their way off of the I-5 to see,” Ashby said.
Military symbolism will be included throughout the garden.
“People will get the feeling they’re not just going into any park,” Ashby said. “It will be designed so it comes alive with memories of time in military, and the reasons for scarifies they and their families made.”
Future uses for the garden area are endless. Ideas range from horticulture therapy for veterans, to garden weddings.
The city building, which served as the former police station and now houses the resource center, underwent significant renovation to accommodate high-technology meeting rooms, a grand ballroom, an event lounge and a catering kitchen.
Now that the ballroom, lounge and kitchen are in place monthly fundraiser dances are being held to raise money for the garden. Since February $2,500 has been generated through monthly dances. Another $15,000 has been raised through the sale of memorial bricks, which will be part of the garden.
Get Groovin’, a singing and choreographed dance band, performed on April 2. The monthly fundraiser also helps bring attention to project. Bill Harms, entertainment coordinator for the honor garden committee, said the price of tickets is kept low to allow more people to attend.
The honor garden committee has drafted and will soon release a request for proposals (RFP) to design and build the garden that is anticipated to attract year round visitors.
“We’re looking for the skill and talent to make it maybe something more than we thought of ourselves,” Harms said. “Once we have the design, the chasing money part of it will not be that difficult. We want it to become a reality.”
Responses to the RFP will enable the committee to select a landscape company to work with, and pinpoint the amount to raise to bring the vision of an honor garden to fruition.