A community garden program started by a late veteran is continuing to thrive after her death and it's all thanks to the community keeping her dream a reality.
After graduating from the Battle Ground to Breaking Ground program at Texas A&M, Kelly Flading decided to continue serving her community in the form of flower beds and sprouting seeds. The Texas A&M program teaches veterans to grow and make connections within the agriculture community.
Those who knew Flading said her choice of outreach fit the person she was.
”Everybody who I know who met her, immediately knew the level of just goodness, good spirit, good energy she had for her neighbors, for our community, for her fellow and sister veterans,” said Kristin Wright, co-founder and board chair of Killeen Creators.
Flading’s dream of starting a community garden came true after she gave a speech at a political event that inspired Wright and together, they founded the nonprofit Killeen Creators.
”I got in touch with her and said, I think we should start a nonprofit," said Wright. "Later that day Louie Minor, who owns Minor Construction and had a lot of land in town ... called her as well.”
Just like that, a dream became a reality and now the community and her fellow veterans are determined to keep the gardens going.
”I’ve seen what this little garden means to the local community and the neighborhood," said Louie Minor, Iraq war veteran, and Killeen Creators board member. "There's many times that I drive by there and there’s people sitting outside, or walking their dogs, or watering the garden."
The gardens were created to serve the community of North Killeen and that is reason enough to keep them going but, not the only reason. For Flading's fellow veterans, it’s also about being there and honoring their sister veteran.
”We were trained to help each other out," said Minor. "We were trained to help our battle buddies out and to never leave someone behind. In Kelly’s case, it would be leaving Kelly’s dream behind.”
Flading’s dream won’t be forgotten, and it’s a tribute and honor that matches the goal she had to continue her service after taking off the uniform.
”She was continuing to serve her country, in her community, in the way she knew how," said Wright. "That for her was life long commitment.”
The community gardens in downtown Killeen are a testament to how veterans stick together and continue to serve their country, even when they have taken off the uniform.