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Building a Garden of Peace

posted Nov 11, 2012, 6:11 PM by Dan Thiede   [ updated Nov 11, 2012, 6:28 PM ]
Eagle Scout Eric Lusardi successfully completed a project that has not only improved the look of a building, but has improved the outlook of an entire community.  The New Richmond Community Commons is housed in what used to be the middle school.  There are several new tenants including: a food shelf, senior center, and headstart for preschoolers.  In addition, the local VFW Post 10818, an extension of the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), and community education share the space.  This old building has a new life and is bringing people of all ages together in one place. 

When Eric heard about the desire to improve the landscaping around the building, he jumped at the chance with an Eagle project in mind.   Not only could he improve the look of the building where he went to school for two years, but he could provide a welcoming place for people to gather and relax while visiting the Community Commons or while walking around the neighborhood.  When the VFW got wind of Eric’s plans, they were eager to help him get started; thus, the idea of a Peace Garden was born.

Early planning consisted of designing a garden plan and figuring out where to get the necessary materials to implement that plan.  Eric called various companies to determine his budget and was pleasantly surprised at how many were willing to donate supplies outright in support of his efforts.  Of the over $3500 budget, approximately $2200 worth of materials and supplies was donated by local businesses and community members.  The remaining funds were  provided by VFW Post 10818 and a grant from the New Richmond Area Community Foundation.

Over the course of several weeks in May and June, Eric and his team of volunteers made up of fellow scouts, family members, and friends, were hard at work.  First, they removed the heavy metal railing that surrounded the area and raked back the layers of mulch, gravel, and landscaping plastic that covered the ground.  Earth-moving equipment was brought in to dig out the path and transplant existing shrubs to their new location.  The new look was already starting to take shape.  Next, the gravel base was laid along the path and retaining blocks were installed around the outer edge. Another layer of gravel finished off the path and fresh topsoil was spread across the newly shaped flower beds.  With the help of a master gardener, donated plants were carefully placed and planted and surrounded by a layer of mulch.  

The garden seemed complete.  However, Eric didn’t stop there.  He wanted to install a bench where people could sit and enjoy the flowers.  He also wanted to erect a peace pole to honor military veterans.  Again, folks came flocking to help in support of the project.  Someone generously donated the bench, and several local artists worked together to create elements of the peace pole.  The final “stone” fell into place with the addition of a memorial granite plaque honoring “all who serve,” not only our military service men and women, but everyone who serves in the community--firefighters, police officers, volunteers, and more.  This garden is for everyone who has worked hard to make the community of New Richmond the wonderful place it is.


The garden was dedicated on Friday, September 21 in a ceremony attended by Mayor Fred Horne, along with State Senator Sheila Harsdorf and State Representatives John Murtha and Dean Knutson.  The Mayor and the City Council signed a proclamation naming that date as New Richmond’s Peace day, in addition to being International Peace day.  It was quite an event.  Also in attendance were Dick Bernard of World Citizen and Melvin Giles of the World Peace Prayer Society and the Peace Pole Makers of America.  Each spoke about the benefits of projects such as this to bring community members together to foster peace around the world.  They praised Eric for having the foresight and ambition to complete such a project, and commended the Mayor and the citizens of New Richmond for supporting Eric in his plans.  According to Mr, Giles, New Richmond’s peace pole is the “most unique in the entire world!”  Indeed, our new peace garden will be recognized throughout the world as it is now registered as an International Peace site.

Eric Lusardi, age 14,  received his Eagle Scout Award upon the completion of the New Richmond Community Commons Peace Garden. He was officially recognized at a Court of Honor following the garden dedication ceremony on Friday night.

Photos & News on the Lusardi Eagle Project:

Column submitted by Barbara Lusardi.