HELENA — Tuesday was a big day for West Mont, as they launched Phase II of major updates to their Farm and Gardens in the Helena Valley.
“It is a very exciting day,” said president and CEO Ashleigh Heimbach. “It’s been coming for the last seven years, so we are ready.”
West Mont held a groundbreaking for Morgan’s Orchard. By next year, the space will feature rows of apple and apricot trees and grape bushes, along with benches and a center pergola – a covered area similar to an amphitheater.
“Really it’s going to be a place where community can come, but then also a place for our clients to come and spend some time and hang out and relax a little,” said Heimbach.
Morgan’s Orchard is named after the late Dick Morgan, a longtime West Mont board member and supporter.
“It’s in memory of him, and he meant a lot to us, so it’s kind of a special meaning,” Heimbach said.
West Mont provides a wide variety of services for people with disabilities, from employment to residential facilities. At first, those clients will generally be the ones using Morgan’s Orchard, but Heimbach says they’re also looking at using the area as an event center in the future.
The new orchard will be where the farm’s pumpkin patch used to be. West Mont has moved the patch to the east.
The company Freedom Fabrication is leading the construction. On Tuesday, they began digging holes and planting the first 40 trees. Heimbach said they hope to have the full project finished by next summer.
Heimbach said much of the funding for this project came from the sale of personalized bricks. They also received support from the Helena Area Community Foundation, the Treacy Foundation and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. On Tuesday, Don Flammond of the Montana State Fraternal Order of Eagles presented West Mont with a check for more than $6,300.
The first phase of West Mont’s improvements at the Farm and Gardens included much-needed upgrades to the group home there. They added an additional bedroom and made the entire building fully accessible.