When the spring planting season starts, about six months from now, the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes will have eight new planter boxes in which to raise fresh vegetables and herbs — thanks to Boy Scout Aaron Damlo, who completed the boxes this summer as part of his Eagle Scout service project.
Many months ago, the 16-year-old Lakeville South High School junior approached the club's leadership about fulfilling the requirements for earning his Eagle Scout award by doing a service project for the club, despite the fact that he isn't a member there. Over Labor Day weekend, he delivered the finished boxes to the club.
While Aaron's home is in Lakeville, his cousin, Alyssa Hoskins, is the marketing and communications coordinator for the Detroit Lakes club, and he also has family in nearby Frazee, so he came up with the idea of doing his service project to benefit the club. After a few phone calls and in-person meetings to brainstorm ideas, the decision was made to create and build eight raised garden planters.
"The first idea was to build a GaGa Ball pit," Aaron said, referring to an octagon-shaped pit that is used to play a sport known as Gaga Ball (in layman's terms a "gentler" version of dodge ball). "But then we came up with the idea of doing the planter boxes, because they would be of better use to the club."
“Aaron’s enthusiasm was evident right away," Hoskins said. "He was engaged, asking lots of questions, proposing many different ideas to meet the needs we expressed. The final product is beautiful, sturdy and will be such an addition to our green space.”
Aaron said the entire process, from conception to finish, took about six months, and now he just has to wait and see whether he has done enough to be deemed worthy of achieving Eagle Scout status. He expects to have an answer to that question Nov. 13 when he attends his next Scout meeting.
The planters will be permanent fixtures at the new club facility at 150 Richwood Road, which opened in September after a little over a year of being temporarily housed at True Life Church while construction was being completed. The new planter boxes will be used for the club's garden programming, which had been on hiatus during the construction period.
“We are so excited Aaron approached us for his project," said Tami Skinner, program director for the Detroit Lakes club. "The timing was perfect as we wrapped up construction on the new building. It will be great to have fresh herbs and vegetables so accessible and visible for kids. They will have the opportunity to be part of the whole process.”
The eight raised garden planters will be placed around the building where club members can view them from the windows. They will be used this coming spring to plant seeds and produce fresh vegetables and herbs. Club members will be part of the entire process, from planting, watering and weeding, to picking and taste-testing the fresh food.
“We’re excited for the new planters and the good work done by Aaron," said Patrick Petermann, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Detroit Lakes and Perham. "We will put them to good use so the kids have fresh food to taste, some who will be trying these things for the very first time. Aaron’s hard work is appreciated and we are thankful he chose our club for his Eagle Scout project.”