By Sheryl Stanley
Simon Mitchell of Harrisonville joined the Cub Scouts when he was 7 years old.
Now, 10 years and 31 merit badges later, Mitchell is about to complete work on his Eagle Scout project and earn the highest rank awarded by the Boy Scouts of America.
Last Saturday morning, Mitchell, with the assistance of some friends, assembled a three-bin compost system which he designed on the grounds of the Harrisonville Community Garden located at the corner of Pearl and Wirt streets.
According to Kristopher Adams, troop leader for Harrisonville Troop 1240, an Eagle Scout must come up with the initial idea for a project and present it to the local round table group which oversees and approves such Eagle Scout activities.
After getting their approval, the scout must secure the materials and organize and manage the project to its completion.
Adams said several members of the troop have attained Eagle Scout status in recent years. A ceremony to induct Mitchell and another scout will be held in the near future.
Diane Bradley-Redden, also a leader of Troop 1240, said reaching Eagle Scout rank is “pretty special”, and praises the program for teaching life skills and building young men who are honorable and capable.
In Mitchell’s case, he began planning his project earlier this year. Thinking the compost bins would benefit the garden, he met with Sara Czech of the Cass County Health Department to get her input. He found a design online which they both liked and secured the donations to cover the cost of materials.
Mitchell expressed his appreciation to Paul Burhart, construction sciences teacher at Cass Career Center, for the assistance he provided. According to Mitchell, his instructor allowed him to store his materials in the school yard, offered guidance as he prepped the lumber and loaned a few hand tools.
Mitchell also said that he plans to work following graduation this spring, then use the scholarship money he earned through the A+ program at Harrisonville High School to enroll in a two-year civil engineering program at State Technical College in Linn.
While Mitchell and his crew worked on the bins, fellow scouts from Troop 1240 and family members cleaned the Community Garden’s overgrown plots and readied them for this year’s growing season.
Harrisonville’s new mayor, Judy Bowman, was also on hand Saturday morning. She has been a benefactor of the garden for the last four years, paying the monthly water bill so people could water their plots when necessary. “I’m always drawn to spaces where people can gather together,” she explained, “and what could be more natural than gardening?”
Czech oversees the garden, now in its fifth year. She notes that many people do not have access to fresh produce and that, from Harrisonville southward, food insecurity is a growing problem for many people.
In addition to the nourishment, growing vegetables can be a learning experience for people, can promote civic pride and even help sustain a cultural heritage. If someone can’t find the herbs or ingredients for some ethnic foods, she said, it’s simple and easy to grow them.
The garden is a partnership between the Cass County Health Department and the Cass County Historical Society and has 46 plots. Each is a raised bed, five feet wide by eight feet long, framed and filled with quality garden soil. The cost is $5 each.
Gardeners can grow whatever they like and are responsible for their own planting, watering, fertilizing and weeding. They can either use their produce or donate it. Czech said she has a list of places that will gladly accept the vegetables.
Anyone who would like to reserve a plot in the Community Garden should contact Czech at the Cass County Health Department at 816-380-8425.