BELOIT, Wis. — Beloit resident Kevin Abb wants to help Beloit get healthy, and commemorate the life of his late wife Lorrie Finley Abb by planting fruit trees, flowers and a produce garden at the Beloit Boys and Girls Club and McNeel Elementary School.
Kevin Abb said Lori Abb loved to garden, and the two shared a passion for it from when they were married in 1983 to when she suddenly passed away in 1996 due to a brain aneurysm at the age of 34. Kevin Abb is retired from waste management, and is a U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
In a process that started last year, Kevin Abb said he spent time preparing the planting areas at both locations before planting seeds with students at the McNeel 21st Century Community Learning Academy.
This year marked the school's first harvest with tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, melon and other healthy snacks, he said.
Kevin Abb and students planted apple trees and peach trees with a small rose garden at the Boys and Girls Club.
"We actually had a pretty good garden," he told the Beloit Daily News . "The kids loved it. I wanted to show the kids that you can do stuff and help others by going in your own back yard and learning how to plant."
When asked if his wife would enjoy the garden, he choked back tears saying that she would have loved the garden.
For Lori Abb's sister, Bobbie Finley, having the gardens help keep her memory alive.
"It's cool for me since she was cremated and placed with my mother, and it's not like her name is on the headstone," Finley said. "But here with the gardens I can go to a place and I can remember her through that."
Kevin Abb said he would be contacting School District of Beloit officials on the possibility of planting additional gardens at other district schools.
"We have too many kids that go hungry in Beloit and that are starving in the community," Kevin Abb said.
He said that although it's important for the state to cover meal costs for at-risk youth, he said the food wasn't healthy.
"This really is about wanting to sit down and see if there are other ways we can do this," Kevin Abb said. "It's about involving anyone that wants to be a part. Anyone can go to those gardens and pick things from them. This is for everyone."
He said next year he hopes to add more fruit trees, including plums, into the mix.
An AP Member Exchange shared by the Beloit Daily News.