Ann Wright: Scouting out a garden project |

Ann Wright: Scouting out a garden project

Eagle Scout candidate Andrew Allen with completed compost bin.
Photo by Ann Wright

For over 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America have been awarding the prestigious Eagle Scout rank to Boy Scouts who complete a number of milestones including service projects. Over-sight of a service project from start to finish is the culmination of years in scouting.

Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is a well-recognized achievement, and the community project offers the scout an opportunity to develop leadership skills. To be accepted as a project toward earning Eagle rank, the Scout must organize, plan and lead the entire undertaking. Scout projects are evaluated not only on leadership skills, but also on the benefit to the organization being served.

Such is the case with the Nevada County Master Gardeners. As the project leader for the compost team at the demonstration garden, Kathy Southern of Grass Valley identified the need for a new three-section compost bin for use at the garden. With her past experience managing a similar project for a community garden in Pleasanton, Southern knew this might be a viable option for our local demonstration garden. The Boy Scout council for this area was contacted with information about what was needed, and to see if an Eagle Scout candidate would accept this as a service project.

Southern soon received a call from Andrew Allen, a 16-year-old high school junior in Auburn. A member of Troop #287, Allen is working on completion of his Eagle Scout rank. In a recent interview, Allen said his family has had a garden for many years and had a compost bin before. He thought building a compost bin for the Nevada County Master Gardeners would be a good service project.

Over the course of the past several months, Allen followed a design the Master Gardeners had in mind, set goals for completion, submitted the project for approval, then organized and built a very sturdy permanent compost structure for the Master Gardeners. Made of wood and wire mesh, the three-section bin is complete with a roof that covers all three segments, and has removable slats in front which allows the gardeners easy access to finished compost.

The goal of the new bin is to provide space to process a lot more compost on a regular basis. The bin also provides a storage area for holding browns and greens on site with a holding area for our finished compost.

On a cold, snowy Saturday in February, Allen and a group of helpers (including his dad and grandfather) brought the bin over to the garden and assembled it on site. What a great addition to the compost area of the garden. It’s structurally very sound and it’s also esthetically pleasing.

Compost is a rich amendment for garden soil and the addition of this structure will benefit the Master Gardeners for years to come. On behalf of the Nevada County Master Gardeners, a huge thank you to Scout Andrew Allen, his dad David and the Scouts in troop 287.

There are two more Master Gardener workshops in March at the Elks Lodge in Grass Valley – today from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., “Functional Irrigation” will be offered. This workshop is designed to demonstrate to home owners the steps involved in building an efficient irrigation system. Presenters will help attendees understand the concepts of water flow, water pressure, determine the length of hoses, and the number of emitters needed for a system. Hydrozoning (grouping plants according to water needs) will also be discussed. “Firewise Landscaping” will be presented on March 30. The Elks Lodge is located at 109 South School Street in Grass Valley. For more information on the workshops or for home gardening information, contact the Master Gardeners at 530-273-0919 or go on line at and select the “Got Questions?” link.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.

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