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Cub Scouts Pack 44 garden!Cub Scouts Pack 44 of Walpole, MA, a pilot for the Green Thumb Challenge, planted their garden this past spring. Pack Leader Richard DeNoyer jumped at the idea of the boys planting a garden because “it was an effective way to foster team work and responsibility with the added benefit of getting the boys to interact with nature on an ongoing basis.”

These scouts were lucky as Walpole had just started a community garden program at Adams Farm in Walpole, MA. This proved the perfect location; however, it was not without its challenges.

Since this was the first year of the community plot it needed significant rock and grass removal. Fortunately, with 49 boys put to the task, they made short work of it and in no time the plot was cleared and ready for planting.
GEF worked out a garden plan with den leaders and soon seeds became cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, sunflowers, corn, pumpkins and much more. Maintenance was easy, with 9 dens of 9 boys each it meant that each scout watered and weeded only a few days over the entire summer.

At the end of August the scouts celebrated their summer harvest with a feast of spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, shish ka bobs, garden fresh salad, string beans and carrots all handpicked by the boys. Dessert included Zucchini bread and blueberry pies from bushes donated by the local Stop & Shop. Cub Scouts Pack 44 Feast from Garden!“A significant goal of the Green Education Foundation is to promote creative and effective ways for schools and teachers to incorporate the outdoors into their curricula. The Green Thumb Challenge where students plant and maintain gardens is a perfect solution,” noted Victoria Waters, President GEF.

Current research indicates that children learn better and have fewer emotional problems when they have regular exposure to nature. Richard Louv, recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal, states that “children are suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder,’ an alienation from nature that diminishes the use of senses and leads to attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.” Gardening addresses these important concerns in a fun and interactive way.

GEF has taken this program national during the Green Thumb Challenge, the largest youth gardening initiative in history calling on classrooms and schools to plant 10,000 indoor or outdoor gardens during the spring of 2010! GEF’s website provides gardening instructions, checklists for school approvals, plot location guidelines; container garden suggestions, funding resources (including grant templates) garden plans, vegetable and flower suggestions and much more. Green Thumb Challenge lessons link gardening to science, math, language arts, creative arts and technology. Summer student internships and community service programs will be available along with an online professional development course for teachers.

The Cub Scouts in Walpole, MA will be working hard this season to grow their own vegetables in a 20x40 community garden plot.

Click the image below to view a full-size garden design layout. ScoutGardenThumb