Portage Girl Scouts Learn About Local Food Sources

PORTAGE- Girl Scouts with Troop 80806 added some flavor to the lives of residents at Bickford Cottage with the planting of an herb garden.

The garden project fulfilled part of the requirements for the troop’s “Sow What” Journey. Girl Scout Journeys are similar to study guides and are focused on a specific topic which girls learn about in-depth. Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan offers three age-appropriate Journeys designed for each of the age levels served– Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador.

“The ‘Sow What’ Journey helps girls learn about our food network, how it works best for you as a person and the Earth,” said Michelle Jackson-Long, leader of Troop 80806. “It teaches them the importance of buying local food only in season as a way to cut down on their carbon footprint.”

Jackson-Long said the garden project also gave them a better understanding of their environment.

“They didn’t realize how expensive it is to access food not in season and they learned how much damage can be done to the food while it’s being transported. They were really surprised about how much food costs,” she said.

Before planting the garden, members of the troop visited residents of the assisted living facility on a monthly basis to sing Christmas carols or play Bingo with them.

Jennifer Ellis, Life Enrichment Coordinator for Bickford, said residents are very appreciative of the girls' efforts.

“They are really enjoying the garden and they think it’s beautiful,” Ellis said. “We’ll be using the herbs for cooking.”

The garden includes herbs such as chives, basil and thyme. Jackson-Long said the girls wanted to make sure that the garden would be very low maintenance with its own watering system. The system uses a 12 ounce pop bottle with slits cut in the sides and cut up sponges on the inside, which is turned upside down in the soil. The bottle acts as a sieve which requires the plants to be watered about once a week.

“This garden was the first thing that came to mind when the girls were thinking about this project,” Jackson-Long said.