July 14, 2016 – Talk about getting your hands dirty! The Girl Scouts of Connecticut planted the very first organic garden at New Covenant Center, a soup kitchen and pantry program in Stamford run by Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.
The endeavor sprouted from a chance meeting between troop leader Michele Emond-Breen and Jim McPartlan, a Catholic Charities of Fairfield County board member. After some brainstorming, they came up with the idea that the Girl Scouts, as part of a project to give back to the community, could build an organic garden for New Covenant Center (NCCenter). The vegetables and herbs would be offered in the pantry to families in need.
Easy to say — but how to do? David Lovegreen, the Volunteer Coordinator for NCCenter, knew just what to do: he called Maxon Keating of Fairgate Farms in Stamford. Keating arranged for three yards of discounted organic soil to be spread into concrete containers in the back of NCCenter. Keating himself donated all the seeds and seedlings for tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, radishes, basil, parsley and sunflowers — and taught the group some tricks and tips of the farming trade.
“I really wanted to build a garden so that we could grow something to help families and feed children,” explained Meghan Burke, a Girl Scout who has been in Emond-Breen’s troop since kindergarten. Burke has spent many hours volunteering for NCCenter, serving in the kitchen and running food drives for the pantry. But where did that passion to help others come from?
The rising sophomore at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield put it this way: “Part of it is growing up in Catholic schools — helping others is part of the culture. But I also love it because I can see the difference I’m making. I love being able to see who I’m helping.”
Edmond-Breen agrees. She hopes that the Girl Scouts will start a trend and build more gardens across the state, growing healthy food for healthier living:
“People think we’re all about the cookies. And yes that’s a big part of the Girl Scouts. But these girls really are making the world a better place.”
To see more photos from this event, visit our gallery here.
Written by Ellen McGinness