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Girl Scouts help build a community garden at Riverwood Park

TOMS RIVER – There is a new addition to Riverwood Park Recreation.

The addition is a community garden built by Girl Scout Troop 322 and the Toms River Green Team.

Troop leader Vicki Weinstein has been at the helm of Girl Scout Troop 322 for three years.

She leads the troop with Brianna Malone, Jenn Montalto, and Angela Plewa.

“Daisy is the first level of Girl Scouts. Those are kindergartners and first-graders. The next level the girls move to is Brownie. The Brownie level consists of second- and third-graders, which is what I have now,” Weinstein said.

She said the girls started the project as Daisy scouts, then bridged over the summer as Brownies. The land designated for the garden by the Green Team consists of six total plots. The girls created their garden on one plot. The park is located at Riverwood Drive.

“Helping to build this community garden has been our Daisy to Brownie journey. We have gotten to continue this project from level to level,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein said the Green Team approached the Girl Scout council. The team members asked if there were any older troops. She said all of the older girls had projects they were working on from the council.

“Right before spring started the Green Team had put out feelers again. I volunteered our troop. I said we are not (older scouts), but we would love to work on the garden,” Weinstein said.

According to Sustainable Jersey, an environmental friendly organization, the Green Team develops plans, implements programs and assists with educational opportunities that support the creation of a sustainable community.

“It took two meetings to actually finish the garden. Once the troop received the green light from the Green Team, I picked the plot that was getting the most sun. At our meeting at the end of April, I had picked some plants from the local farms and the troop went over and planted all the plants. Two weeks after we had gotten all the plants into the ground one of our dads built us a strawberry gutter. So the girls were able to grow strawberries,” Weinstein said. “We got the plants in the ground at the first meeting. We waited until Mother’s Day on May 13 to put the strawberries in.”

Weinstein said the troop consists of 14 girls.

“We are Brownies now. The troop is now preparing to close the garden as the winter season approaches,” Weinstein said.

Green Team member Claire Rutz kept in contact with the girls as they created the garden.

“The troop did a wonderful job. They had been working hard on the plot of land we designated for the community. The group planted tomatoes, eggplants, petunias. They had a healthy crop despite being the only group in the community garden this year,” Rutz said.

Rutz has been a part of the Green Team for two years. She said Troop 322 inspired her to get out to the plot and pull weeds.

“The Green Team was very proud and honored to help them achieve some badges as well. The fact they were able to plant on township property instead of someone’s house allowed for the children to be involved with something that is mutually accessible and mutually owned. It was a positive experience for the leaders and the girls. They plan to take on two more plots in April,” Rutz said.

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