Garden grows with love, and some help from village
Updated: August 9, 2012 3:33AM
Despite the drought, there’s an interesting little patch of Hinsdale village property that has thrived much to the benefit of the HCS Community Services food pantry clients and inadvertently to the benefit of the girls tending to the little plot.
The patch, neatly bordered with cedar planking and wired in, is a 7-by-20 foot vegetable garden in between the Wellness House and Highland Station train tracks. Small signs proclaim this the HCS Giving Garden, stating: “The produce from this garden will serve the food pantry patrons of HCS Family Services.”
It also lists the six names of Lane School girls — fourth- and fifth-graders from last school year — who are members this Girl Scout Bronze Award Team for 2012. Mary Claire Arbor, Caila Foley, Denise Fischer, Lucy Fischer, Anisha Sunkara and Sydney Thayer are the six Scouts, and this garden will earn them the highest award that Girl Scouts offers to girls of this age—the Bronze Award. The Girls Scouts organization consider achieving a Bronze Award to be a “leadership adventure” for the girls and it requires that the scouts serve the community in some capacity after coming together to agree on, map out and plan a project.
Like the others on the Bronze Award team, Sydney Thayer has been in scouting since being a Daisy scout in kindergarten. She will be a fifth grader later this month. “I like earning all the patches and doing a lot of things and experiencing a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t,” she said. She remembered when the girls started talking about trying to earn a Bronze award and what they could do to achieve that. “We were talking about the Food Pantry,” she said, “and the people who go there, and we were thinking it would be nice if they could get fresh food.”
The Thayer family has its own vegetable garden, and according to Sydney’s mom Barb, Sydney in particular has loved the idea that they family has been able to grow and enjoy the garden’s fruits and vegetables. Sydney knew that tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes and basil were easy enough to grow, and she encouraged the girls to think about a garden that could benefit the HCS Family Services’ Food Pantry.
Originally the girls thought to put tomatoes in planters around the Memorial Building. Barb Thayer prepared a formal proposal which she submitted to Dan Hopkins, who was then the village horticulturist. He reviewed it but didn’t think the pots or Memorial Hall location would be ideal. Instead he talked to the people at Parks and Recreation and came up with using the village-owned land to south of Wellness House and north of the Highland Train station tracks.
It had several things going for it, namely, that it was unused, that it is a water detention area and that it is irrigated regularly. Hopkins has since left his position for another but Gina Hassett, director of park and recreation, praised the Bronze Award team.
“What a great idea for these girls,” Hassett said, “and a great opportunity for Community Services.”
In fact, now that the garden is a success the village would like to make that space available for scout troops in future years if there is an interest.
Earlier in the spring, the girls undertook fundraising projects like stuffing Easter eggs to earn money for purchasing plants and the fencing, which Steve Thayer helped install. Each of the six girls has had to spend two weeks tending the garden, keeping it free of weeds and picking and delivering the bounty to the Food Pantry.
Anisha Sunkara, an 11-year-old heading for sixth grade at Hinsdale Middle School, had a week which actually featured rain this summer. She noticed a remarkable difference in the garden before and after the rain.
“A lot of the plants grew,” she said, and she and her mom collected armfuls of produce, and ended bringing stacks of containers the Food Pantry.
They were both impressed and the Food Pantry people were delighted.
The gardening process, from small plant and seedling to ripening and now mature edibles, has been a rewarding revelation to all the girls. Said Mary Claire Arbor, a rising fifth-grader at the Lane School, “It’s a neat project to grow the vegetables, and to see the different stages of the growing.”
The basil was one of the first plants ready for harvesting, but now there is a lot more.
“It’s really cool finding all the vegetables,” said Denise Fischer, who will be a sixth-grader at HMS. It’s really cool, too, that in serving others the girls have grown too.
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