UNION COUNTY — Boy Scouts from Troop 80 of Cranford pitched in last month to help improve garden beds cultivated by the Master Gardeners of Union County at the Trailside Demonstration Garden in the Watchung Reservation, in Mountainside. All together, the scouts, parent volunteers, and Master Gardeners laid down six cubic yards of mushroom compost soil in just two hours. The soil was purchased with a generous grant from the Rotary Club of Westfield.
The enriched soil will add nutrients to the garden beds in the Master Gardeners flagship Community Sharing Garden, Sharing Garden Annex and Herb Garden, to help prepare for a successful growing season next year.
“Troop 80 is to be commended for its work at the Trailside Demonstration Garden,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Deborah Scanlon. “By lending a helping hand to the Master Gardeners fresh produce donation efforts, Troop 80 has helped to ensure that our local food banks can continue providing nutritious meals to those in need next year.”
The three gardens produce 29 varieties of vegetables and herbs, which the Master Gardeners donate to local food pantries and community kitchens. Since 2002, the Master Gardeners have donated 16,567 pounds of produce to help feed the hungry in Union County.
“It is an integral part of the Boy Scouts’ mission to raise young men who value service and are involved in their communities,” said Scout Master Roy Walton, who explained that community service is one of the requirements to advance in rank.
Led by Walton and members of the Master Gardeners, Scout Troop 80 tackled the gigantic pile of mushroom compost soil with wheelbarrows, shovels and forks, first loading the wheelbarrows with the soil, then adding the soil to the garden beds.
The Scouts also added the composted soil to the Flower Cutting Gardens. Flowers grown in these gardens are made into bouquets and donated for cancer patients and survivors at Overlook Hospital’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, the Wellness Community of Central Jersey, the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Foundation, and the Emmanuel Foundation of Scotch Plains.
Since 2007, the Master Gardeners have donated more than 900 bouquets of cut flowers and greens to brighten the lives of cancer patients and survivors.
“Yes, the boys were tired after moving all that compost, but I think they were proud of themselves being able to do all that hard work,” said Walton. “I think they made the connection between the work they did and how it helps others in the community.”
Scout Troop 80 meets on Mondays, 7:30 – 9 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church in Cranford.
The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County is a volunteer program of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, supported in part by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The Master Gardeners are headquartered at the Extension offices in the Union County services building in Westfield and perform many community service projects throughout the County.
For more information about the Master Gardeners and all Extension programs and activities, call the Extension offices at 1-908-654-9854 or visit www.ucnj.org.
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