The Youth Gardening Project is a Call-to-Action, two-season activity for all scouts, to plan a container or bed garden, plant seed, nurture, and harvest. The inspiration for the Gardening Project came about because the COVID-19 Pandemic starting in 2020, revealed the existence of large food deserts in many communities where black and brown families lived, who lacked access to fresh fruits and vegetables. There was a real concern that these families shared a collective concern for being able to put food on our tables. Growing one’s own foods is an excellent opportunity to balance the scales.
The country was practicing social distancing and some troop leaders started growing their own gardens to compensate for the down time with their troop. Others were responding to panic buying in many retail facilities. Troop leader Milton Chambliss presented the idea to Director Clarence Crayton as a possible competitive outdoor project for scouts, thus it became a Gardening Project Contest. The knowledge he possessed as a manager of food distribution for his local county government during the Summer of 2020, was another motivational factor in his decision to encourage his troop to “grow green”.
Making this project competitive was attractive to scouts, whether it was one on one competitive, girl troops competing against boy troops, or troops competing against troops, the competition was healthy. AAMES looked at this project as an opportunity to introduce scouts to potential career challenges. The model implemented by USDA programs that provide free food to those in need, can provide substantial business opportunities to those willing to produce, package and distribute food in underserved communities.