Girl Scout troop eyes Bronze Award for donation garden

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GREENFIELD — A volunteering opportunity inspired a group of local Girl Scouts to pour their time and effort into helping people in need in the community.

Girl Scout Troop 1814, made up of girls who attend schools in the Southern Hancock school district, volunteered in May at the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen in downtown Greenfield, which provides thousands of meals every year. When it came time to find a project for their Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can receive, the troop thought of those same hungry folks they’d helped and wanted to do more, said troop leader Tiffany Flint.

For their efforts, the girls expect to soon receive their Bronze Award.

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The group used the proceeds from their cookie sales the year before and planted a donation garden at Flint’s house, in which they raised a myriad of fresh produce, including peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, watermelon, string beans, carrots, lettuce, sweet potatoes, herbs and more. They donated all of the produce to the soup kitchen as they harvested it, Flint said.

The group started planting in June, using a mix of garden beds and raised planters, she said.

“Starting with their cookie booth, they learned the whole idea of running their own business, how to market things, and how to manage their finances and goals,” Flint said. “Then, they had to research what plants grow well in the Midwest, what seasons they could be grown in, and learned about the planting process itself, getting the ground ready and how often each plant needed to be cared for.”

Maddie Flint, 11, a student at New Palestine Intermediate School and Tiffany’s daughter, said she loved delivering their fresh produce to the soup kitchen and seeing how excited they were to receive the donations.

She said though the group is moving on to another community project this year, several of her fellow Scouts plan to grow produce on their own so they can keep donating to the soup kitchen.

“I would like to grow something,” she said. “I want to retry watermelon; last time it didn’t really turn out and grow right.”

Shelly Stock, 11, another Scout from Troop 1814, said it was challenging to know when to water their garden to keep it from wilting in the hot summer sun.

“My favorite part was getting to grow it with my friends, and watch it prosper,” she said. “Seeing everything come out of the ground was really cool to me.”

Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen executive director Jill Ebbert said the troop’s efforts brightened the kitchen.

“They were cute as a button,” she said. “It’s always a blessing when the kids will take on something like that, and I love, love, love having fresh produce.”

While selling their cookies to support the project, and learning when to weed, when to water and when to pluck bugs off their plants were important lessons, Tiffany Flint said the most important lesson the girls learned was the realization that there are people right in their own community in need, and they had the ability to help.

She said the troop hopes to inspire their community and encourage others to grow their own produce and donate it to the soup kitchen as well.

“{span}By encouraging others to join their efforts, many more people can have access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said. {/span}