The look and feel of a dense slab of honey locust wood or a high quality red oak captures the imagination of college student Austin Vyas, and to be able to make that wood into something that benefits a place he’s loved since he was a young boy (the Milton Victory Gardens) was a pleasing pairing for the 21-year-old this summer.
Vyas, who started his own woodworking business while he was a student at Milton Academy, recently built and donated one new bench and refurbished another inside the area of individual garden plots in property owned by the Cunningham Foundation off Edge Hill Road.
Vyas, who has joined his mother Tammy in the planning, planting, and pulling weeds at the gardens since he was about 4, said the benches are just a way of showing his appreciation.
“The best part of the garden for me as a kid was being out in nature,” said Vyas, who said he and his younger brother Ryan were constant helpers.
Vyas is going into his third year at Northeastern University and working a cooperative education job at Fallon Ambulance, where he also received training as an emergency medical technician. Vyas said that as he has gotten busier, his time spent in the garden has decreased.
His mom, who runs a busy laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, has gradually replaced some of the vegetables she used to plant with flowers.
Their plot today is bound by two solid rows of zinnias in shades of red, orange, pinks and yellow. Still growing in the neat rows are okra (his parents are from Texas), jalapenos, carrots, and squash.
As young children, Vyas and his brother Ryan would help deliver the extra vegetables to the Milton Food Pantry. They later organized food drives for the pantry and volunteered weekends and over spring break to distribute food.
Despite his love of woodworking, Vyas is studying math and biology at Northeastern and hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father Jatin “Jay” Vyas to become a physician.
His father is an infectious disease specialist and a director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Medicine Residency Program.
During his recent visits to the garden, Vyas noticed that the average age of the gardeners seemed to be increasing and he liked the idea of having a bench as close as possible to the gardens.
The new bench is located just a couple of feet away from his mother’s garden.
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