BARRE — Things are going to be a bit greener at central Vermont’s only homeless shelter.
Members of Daisy Scout Troop 30048 took advantage of the warm spring weather Saturday to plant herbs and vegetables at the Good Samaritan Haven, a project that is both part of a larger statewide initiative and a great way for the girls to learn about the importance of public service.
“I love that the kids get to be a part of the community as a whole, instead of just focusing on themselves,” said Susan Vanderhoof, of Barre, as her 6-year-old daughter, Cayleigh Vanderhoof, planted seeds in the recently tilled beds.
“I think it’s important to learn to grow things, but also to share their abilities with others,” Vanderhoof continued.
Chelsea Boston, a member of Americorps who volunteers at the Good Samaritan shelter, said the gardening initiative is a boon for both the mission and the community at large.
“Unfortunately, fresh fruits and veggies are one of the donations we struggle with,” Boston said. “It’s a great program and it’s really bloomed into a great community project.”
Boston was referring to the Master Gardening Program offered though UVM Extension, which offers gardening classes and calls on participants to share their labor and newly found knowledge with others.
“People live in Vermont because they want to connect with nature,” said Lyn Turcotte, a master gardener who was on hand Saturday to assist the girls and their parents in the planting of tomatoes, radishes, sage and other plants.
“This program helps people connect with where they live,” Turcotte said. “You end up with healthy food, and you know where it came from.”
Shelter Manager Judi Joy said the ongoing project — volunteers are expected to return near the end of May — helps alleviate concerns some might have about having a homeless shelter in their area.
“It’s important for people to know this is not a scary place,” Joy said. “This is a great thing for us and for the community.”
In addition to community labor, the project was funded through more than $300 in donations from a number of local businesses, including: Aubuchon Hardware in Barre; Montpelier Agway Farm & Garden; Tractor Supply in Montpelier; Big Lots in Barre; Guy’s Farm and Yard in Montpelier; Nelson Ace Hardware in Barre; Mad River Garden Center in Waitsfield; East Hill Tree Farm in Plainfield; ReSTORE in Barre; Evergreen Gardens of Vermont in Waterbury; and Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard in West Danville.