Local Boy Scout selects Food Bank of Delaware Farm for capstone Eagle Scout project

June 13, 2022

Boy Scout Zach Denn and a team of mentors, including Food Bank of Delaware Agricultural Director Kyle Brolis, have spent the past year designing and implementing a 1,200-square-foot native plant garden on the Food Bank Farm. The garden consists of perennial flowers, grasses and shrubs and creates a natural landscape to provide habitat for pollinating insects and other wildlife.

Zach received incredible expert input about native plants from staff and volunteers at Mt. Cuba Center including Eileen Hazard, Shirley Duffy, and Mike Parry.  From their recommendations, Zach and his project coach, Jeff Kline, were able to put together their plant selection and layout.

“Zach’s project is a perfect example of what we envision for our community farm,” said Kyle.  “The project was collaborative and inclusive from the very beginning, and through the final stage when Zach brought his amazing team of friends, family and fellow scouts to plant the garden.  Zach did an amazing job leading and directing.  The result is transformed space that benefits us all, including local wildlife.”

“The location was chosen to beautify the Food Bank Farm’s landscape while providing an opportunity to educate the community about landscaping with natives,” Kyle said.

The site chosen was a swale area that previously was covered with grass that served no other benefit besides holding the soil in place.

Naturally, any significant project is not without a set of challenges, Kyle noted. “Because the site is on a sloped swale, the garden needed to include plants that could tolerate dryer conditions on the sides and wet conditions at the bottom.”

The site was prepared by amending the soil with leaf compost and then laying tarps over the area for several weeks to smother and kill the existing grasses.  Zach amassed a large group of volunteers to participate in the planting day.  It was a remarkably chilly and windy May day, but everyone brought their positive energy to help make the planting a great success.  After the plants were transplanted, the team mulched the area around the plants to help suppress future weeds, retain moisture, and add organic matter to that soil. Zach noted he has another 100 or so perennials to plant in the garden before the project is complete.

MEET ZACH DENN: 

Zach, please tell us about yourself.

I go to St. Georges’s Technical High School.  I am in 10th grade. My plans for my future are to graduate high school and possibly go into something in the medical field.  I love to play basketball, do Boy Scouts and swim teams, and play NBA 2k22 video games.

Tell us a bit about the project itself. 

My Eagle Scout Project was to plant 500 native pollinator plant plugs in a garden on the Food Bank’s property. Native pollinators are plants that are native to Delaware and benefit the ecosystem and the animals that need nectar to survive like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Native pollinator plants benefit the ecosystem because they help bees spread pollen to other flowers. It will also help improve the welcoming space and encourage community members to come to the building because they will see the beautiful flowers and want to learn about plants native to Delaware and check them out.  A third benefit will be that it will provide decoration around the hoop houses and the farm. The final benefit is that it will provide a learning space on the farm to teach people about the landscaping and the benefits of native plants in Delaware.

There is a very long approval process that typically takes several months.  First, the scout has to write their Eagle Scout Project proposal. Second, we have to submit it to our troop committee for approval   Third, we submit it to our district representative of the Delmarva Council of America for their approval.

What was the most challenging part of this project? What was the most enjoyable?

The most challenging part of this project so far is probably going to be the Eagle Scout Service Project report that every single scout who makes it to Eagle Scout has to do to complete the rank advancement. The Eagle Scout Service Project Report involves putting everything you did and the challenges that you faced during the process of making your Eagle Scout Project a reality into writing. The most enjoyable part was the project day where everyone who signed up came out to help.

How is an Eagle Scout project funded? Was there fundraising involved?

My Eagle Scout project was funded through several types of fundraisers. I partnered with Cafe Napoli to dedicate a portion of the sales from a specific day to go towards my Eagle Scout Project.  I also had a Go Fund We page where people who weren’t able to come to Cafe Napoli in person could donate money online and still support my Eagle Scout Project. In addition, I got money by asking my family members to donate toward my Eagle Scout Project.

When do you learn if you’ve achieved the rank of Eagle Scout? Has your ceremony been planned yet?

After I write the Eagle Scout Project Report and fill out the application, I go up in front of the Troop 2 committee, made up of leaders from my troop, to present my Eagle Scout Project proposal, plan, and report to them. They will tell me whether I’m prepared to go present my Eagle Scout Project plan, proposal, and report to the Delmarva Council or not.  Then, I present my Eagle Scout Project to the Delmarva Council, and they ask the same type of questions but, was more detailed and specific.  After I do a Board of Review with the Delmarva Council, I find out whether I got Eagle Scout Rank or not.  After all that occurs then, I schedule my ceremony on a date which will hopefully be in the fall.  Finally, I get my Eagle Scout neckerchief and neckerchief slide, and my Eagle Scout Rank patch.

Is there anyone – a mentor, for example — you’d like to thank for their support?

I would like to thank Mr. Kline, Mr. Brolis, and Mr. James O’Connor, Community Farm Coordinator for the process of setting up my Eagle Scout project.  I first met with them in July 2021, and they have been helping me for almost a year.

What’s next for you?

This summer, I will be doing an internship at Nemours and hope to get a job at ShopRite. I also plan to complete my Eagle Scout Project report.

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