The efforts of a Hilliard Darby High School senior are expected to help volunteers who provide assistance to the local families in need.
Garett Grobe, 18, raised about $4,500 and marshaled the resources and workforce necessary to build an enclosed storage area and an attached pergola at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church's Mill Run Campus, 3500 Mill Run Drive in Columbus, just outside Hilliard.
The Grobe family attends the church, and he is part of the church's high school ministry.
"I wanted to do something to benefit the whole community in a larger way," said Grobe, whose project earned him the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 148 of the Boy Scouts of America.
The enclosed garage provides secure storage for the tools and equipment that volunteers use to work in the garden, and the pergola provides a shaded sitting area.
The storage area is particularly helpful to prevent the theft of tools and materials that occasionally have occurred, said Kevin Grobe, Garett's father.
About 10,000 pounds of food are grown each year in the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church's community garden, said Irma Chon, the associate pastor at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship who oversees the many volunteers from the faith community who tend the garden.
The garden was started in 2008 by Upper Arlington Lutheran Church member Kelly Hern, said Kim Emch, founder and executive director of Serving Our Neighbors Ministries.
SON Ministries provides free summer lunches at multiple central Ohio sites, including in Hilliard, for children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at their school districts.
Although grants from state and federal agencies provide the food served at lunches each summer, those same families receive the raw vegetables and other food from the community garden to eat at home, Chon said.
Most of the crop is received by these families, but surpluses are donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Chon said.
The community garden has summer crops that include eggplants, squash, tomatoes and zucchini and fall crops that include cabbage, radishes and turnips.
"We serve a lot of refugees, too, and try and grow crops from their home (countries)," Chon said.
It took eight weekends of work, with eight Scouts and six adults working eight hours Saturdays and Sundays to complete the project in October, Garett Grobe said.
Several home-improvement and hardware stores provided materials at a discount, and local restaurants donated food to the workers, he said.
Garett Grobe said the project provided valuable leadership skills and experience.
After he graduates from Darby later this year, Grobe said, he plans to attend Kent State University, enlist in the Ohio Air National Guard and become a pilot.