Eagle Scout project to provide fresh veggies for Greenfield food pantry

  • James Powell of Greenfield recently completed his Eagle Scout project, building a garden with raised beds for the Greenfield Covenant Church Food Pantry. Courtesy photo

  • James Powell of Greenfield recently completed his Eagle Scout project, building a garden with raised beds for the Greenfield Covenant Church Food Pantry. Courtesy photo—

  • James Powell of Greenfield recently completed his Eagle Scout project, building a garden with raised beds for the Greenfield Covenant Church Food Pantry. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/9/2021 4:22:55 PM

There’s a new garden outside the Greenfield Covenant Church that wasn’t there two weeks ago.

It took a little over a week for James Powell, a sophomore at ConVal High School and aspiring Eagle Scout, to prepare the land in back of the ministry center, construct the nine raised garden boxes that total 100 square feet of planting space inside a 150-square-foot footprint.

The project was twofold for the Greenfield resident who first joined Scouts in second grade: he needed a project worthy of Eagle Scout consideration, while at the same time Powell wanted it to be something that would benefit his community. The idea for the garden – which faces south and gets plenty of sun – is that vegetables grown in it during the summer months will go to the Greenfield Covenant Church Food Pantry, located just a few hundred feet from the garden area.

“I was looking for something that would stick around and really be used,” Powell said.

Powell has volunteered at the pantry at least a dozen times and the lack of fresh produce really stuck with him. He saw there was a need for things like zucchini and carrots, green beans and peas. So he figured why not have his crowning achievement in scouts be a project that could help others have the types of food for a well-balanced meal.

“They really don’t seem to have a lot of vegetables,” Powell said.

The Rev. Dan Osgood of the Greenfield Covenant Church said that since most of the food comes from the NH Food Bank and other similar providers, most of it is canned and boxed, outside of the occasional summertime donation from a local grower.

“(Fresh vegetables) are something we don’t have a lot of,” Osgood said.

Powell began as a Wolf Scout in second grade and quickly took a liking to the scouting way of life. A friend got him into it and others along the way have pushed him to keep going. But in reality, he liked it so much it didn’t take much prodding at all.

He progressed his way through the ranks, eventually crossing over to Boy Scouts in fifth grade. Now eight years after entering Cub Scouts, Powell is close to earning his rank of Eagle. To become an Eagle Scout, Powell said, he had to serve in his Troop 302 out of Keene as a Life Scout for six months, demonstrate Scout Spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law, earn a total of 21 merit badges (10 more than required for the Life rank), and actively serve in at least one position of responsibility.

“What they’re really looking for is leadership qualities and abilities,” Powell said. “That you can prove you can lead people in a scout setting and a real world setting.”

Powell said he has been working toward his Eagle Scout rank for a year and a half. He went through a number of ideas for his service project before landing on the food pantry garden. All told, Powell said the garden took about 60 hours, which included the help of volunteers and some residents who donated plants.

“It’s something that can be used for years,” Osgood said. “We had the space and I think it’s a great project.”

Powell came up with the design, set up fencing and laid down weed control. He cut the lumber and then put the boxes together before filling them with soil. All told, it took three work days to finish. While his project was merely to set up the garden, Powell understands a lot will need to be done to make it a project that has a lasting impact.

“A garden is quite a bit of work,” he said. “So I plan to make it clear I’m here to help take care of it if need be. I do plan to take care of it in the future.”

Osgood said church members are really excited about it and there has been interest in helping with the garden.

“It’s already started into becoming this community project,” he said. Osgood hopes it will inspire others to donate fresh produce to the pantry, which is open to the entire region. “People don’t  often think about donating fresh vegetables to the pantry.”

The addition of a new commercial refrigerator and freezer will provide space to store what is grown in the garden, Osgood said.

Now that the project is complete, Powell will take it to the Eagle Scout board for review.

“This is the last requirement I have left,” he said.


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