I’ve always been gardening. I did it with my grandmother, and I just think it’s such a beautiful process—there’s power in it. You think, how could something so bountiful come from such a small seed or a bland area of land where you’ve just thrown seeds on the ground? There’s nothing there, and then all of a sudden there’s this abundance of plants and healthy food. You’re part of the circle of life.
Another thing I’ve been doing my whole life is building toward my Girl Scout Gold Award. Learning to lead in your own way is a lot of what Girl Scouts is about, and I’ve gotten a lot of practice through the years. When it was time for me to think about my Gold Award project and what I could do that would help my community, I realized I could use my gardening skills.
When people who aren’t experiencing food insecurity think about people who are, they may assume that if a person has access to a food bank they’ll be OK. But food banks don’t always offer many fresh food options—and all people deserve access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
That’s why I created the Very Hungry Caterpillar Garden in my community—to grow healthy fruits and vegetables that would be distributed through the local food pantry. But this project wasn’t just about food; it was about inclusion, education, and empowerment. I wanted people to realize that often they can grow their own food, that it’s something they can do for themselves. It was also really important to me to make the garden wheelchair accessible. Non-disabled people often look past the disability community, but Girl Scouts is about coming together, no matter who you are or what challenges you might face, and working to make a difference.
This project took a lot of work. I had to step up and make executive decisions. I had to negotiate with adults in positions of power. I had to work within my budget and change my plan based on what I could actually make happen. There was a lot of self-growth involved. It was also really wonderful to have my mom by my side as I completed the garden; she was a Girl Scout when she was younger but never got to earn her Gold Award. Going through this process with her made the whole experience really inspiring and beautiful.
I’m currently a freshman at Virginia Tech, majoring in creative writing. You might be wondering why my Gold Award project didn’t have anything to do with what I’m majoring in or what I plan to do when I’m older—but it didn’t need to. I just wanted to do something to help bring my community together and make it a better place. It feels so good to look back and know that I did exactly that.