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Eagle Scout's Sustainable Garden Helps Feed Families

Patrick Brennan's idea has taken root at Ross Street School in Woodbridge.


The service project of an Eagle Scout is going to be feeding a lot of folks this summer.

Patrick Brennan, 16, has started a sustainable community garden on the grounds of l in , and the produce from the vegetables will be donated to needy families at the various township food banks.

Brennan came up with the gardening idea after his first project - a Four Freedoms quilt project for war veterans - was turned down by the Scout Council. 

When the junior devised a plan not just to make a garden, but one that, once planted in boxes, would require much less upkeep and maintenance than a traditional garden, he got the Scout Council's approval.

"I started planning it out in February. How many gardens, what kind of plants, and where to put it," Brennan said.

He wanted to make the size of the garden 24 ft. by 24 ft. and put it in a central location. Brennan said he emailed Mayor John McCormac for suggestions. The mayor recommended he speak to Kimberly Hahn, now in her second year as principal of Ross Street School next to the building on School Street.

Brennan's project was a perfect merging of his need to complete his Eagle Scout project, and Principal Hahn's desire for a garden on school grounds.

"She was very enthusiastic," Brennan said. "She wanted a sustainable garden at her school. She had applied for a grant to get one, but someone else won it."

Part of Brennan's plan included figuring out how to get the materials needed for the garden. Most of it was donated.

"The plants were donated from individuals. All the wood came from Abbey Lumber," Brennan said. "The mayor donated the mulch.

The money for the rest of the materials, about $700 all together, came from fundraising Brennan did.

Volunteers came today one weekend to build the garden. They included "kids from my troop who helped out and their families," the Eagle Scout said. "We also had friends from the JFK Marching Band, family members who were Eagle Scouts and some neighbors."

The garden is divided into seven sections. The volunteers planted a slew of vegetables, including varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, bell peppers, string beans, watermelon, and pumpkins, and herbs such as oregano, rosemary and basil. Flowers were also donated, so the group used leftover dirt and mulch to add flowers to the school grounds.

"The plants are established and some are bearing fruit already," Brennan said.

Because it's a sustainable garden, it requires less upkeep than a more traditional garden. 

"A sustainable garden involves a minimal amount of work. You can leave it alone for a week, and it'll be fine," the Eagle Scout said.

During the school year, students at Ross Street School and their families will tend the garden while janitors water it and weed it, Brennan said. A gardening club and the 

"The school will use the plants to study for science classes or health classes, or for institutional teaching methods during the year," he said.

The JFK student will be a senior this fall. His future plans include college at Michigan State or Montclair, where he may major in anthropology or archeology.

For now, he's proud of his sustainable gardening project. "I really feel like it was important," he said.

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