SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For many veterans, especially those in long-term care, instead of sitting in their hospital rooms all day long, the rooftop garden provides a chance for them to get their hands in the soil to plant and start seeds.

Veterans get opportunities to improve their health and well-being through nature.

SUNY ESF professor, Dr. Lee Newman, her graduate student, and the Veterans Administration (VA) started the program 10 years ago.

“It’s a partnership between the college and the hospital, now marking its tenth summer.

We have students coming over here working with the vets. The lead student is obviously my graduate student Dan Collins but we’ve had scores of undergraduate students also working over here.

When we started we had no money whatsoever. So we went to places like hardware stores and said hey do you have any big pots from plants that died and we’d get them to donate and we would just spray paint them red, white and blue.”

Dr. Lee Newman, SUNY ESF

A majority of the plants in the garden have been planted by vets. It brings back childhood memories for many, and it is something they enjoy doing.