Rick Baber, Department of Public Utilities

Amid the discarded garbage and debris dumped at the Springfield Road Public Use Area, there is a carefully cultivated plot of earth designed to lift spirits. Department of Public Utilities employee Rick Baber calls it a “hope garden.”

“People like to see things grow,” he said, “hopefully, it will bring a little joy.”

The idea took root in Baber’s mind about one month into the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to brighten the somber mood of staff.

“I saw a little piece of ground and thought it would be nice to have a garden out here,” Baber explained.

The public use area superintendent admits his coworkers were skeptical, but he convinced some of them to help.

They built a 10-by-12 garden with wood and dirt donated by a local Girl Scouts troop, then planted tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

“Anything dealing with nature is positive. When the garden flourishes and bears fruit, I think it will make people happy,” Baber said.

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