Eagle Scout project: Grove City's Shane Fuller helps start Fryer Park community garden
How does a community garden grow?
In Grove City, it's with the help of a Boy Scout.
The city will start a community garden at Fryer Park, 3899 Orders Road, later this spring, and Shane Fuller, 13, a member of Boy Scout Troop 136, is leading the effort to build the first 50 garden beds as his Eagle Scout project.
"Shane was looking to do an Eagle Scout project with Parks and Recreation and asked us if we had any ideas," (Grove City) Parks and Recreation director Kim Conrad said.
The community-garden concept already was under consideration, she said.
"We got a call from a resident who lives on the south side of Grove City who asked us, 'Why don't you do some community gardens,'" Conrad said. "It's something we already talked about doing it in the past in different varieties."
The city will provide the funding for the project, at a total cost of about $20,000 for materials and signs, she said.
"I like this project because it gives people around the area and the senior citizens in the area a place they can go to get outside and do some gardening," Shane said. "Also, any of the food that people grow and aren't going to use, we'll be able to donate to a food pantry in Grove City."
Shane has worked with the parks department on planning the design for the raised garden beds, which will include 30 8-by-12-foot plots; 20 8-by-10-foot plots and four elevated 2-by-4-foot beds.
"The elevated garden beds will be for the elderly and physically challenged so they won't have to bend down to get to their garden," he said.
His design includes a three-way compost bin that include a slot for soil, a covered slot for decomposing material and a third space where gardeners could place material to be decomposed, Shane said.
"This project is on warp speed" to complete in time for the growing season, Conrad said.
Residents will be able to begin reserving a plot at the community garden later this month on the city's website, grovecityohio.gov/parks-and-recreation/, she said.
The plan is to charge residents a $30 fee for small plots and $40 for larger plots, she said.
"I don't think that will change," Conrad said. "The reason for the fees will be to make sure people commit to gardening their plots."
Fee money will be donated to local food pantries, she said.
Shane said he is assembling a group of volunteers who will build the garden beds and mulch the site over two weekends in late April and early May.
"I'll be leading it because there's no way I could build all the beds myself," he said.
He's been posting information seeking volunteers via social media and has reached out to his Scout troop, Shane said.
Planning the project has been a challenge during the pandemic, he said.
"I think the biggest challenge is communication because you can't have face-to-face talks with everybody," Shane said.
His communications with the parks department has been via email and online, he said.
The 52 garden beds Shane is helping to design represents only the first phase of the community garden, Conrad said.
The city's ultimate plan is to create a community-garden site with about 200 beds at Fryer Park, she said.
The community garden will offer a number of benefits for Grove City and its residents, Conrad said.
"First of all, it encourages people to get outside and be active," she said. "There are a lot of positive benefits for people to work in the soil and in the sunshine."
Tending a garden also is a good way to include more fruits and vegetables on your dinner table, Conrad said.
"Produce you grow yourself just seems to taste better," she said.
The community garden also will provide an opportunity for residents who don't have the space at their homes for a garden to work on developing their green thumb, Conrad said.
Community gardens also bring people together to socialize as they work on their plots, she said.
"I think the community garden will be a really good thing because it's something that's going to last a while," Shane said. "It will be cool if I have children someday to bring them to the community garden and tell them how I helped get it started."
Shane has been involved in scouting for five years, the last three as a Boy Scout.
He decided to become a Scout "because I like wilderness. It's calm and serene to be out in the woods," he said.
With the successful completion of the community-garden project, Shane will be eligible to earn his Eagle Scout badge at a relatively young age.
"I wanted to get it accomplished now because I'm going to be entering high school next year, and with all the things you can get involved with in high school – band or sports – it's going to be harder to find the time to do an Eagle Scout project," he said.