Teen working toward Eagle rank creates teaching garden at Freehold Public Library

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Michael Zamorski of Monmouth Council Boy Scout Troop 18, chartered by St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold Borough, has created a teaching garden at the Freehold Public Library as he works to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.

“Michael had volunteered as a performer with the library’s summer programs, acting in skits and helping with crafts for younger children,” said Kathy Mulholland, library director.

“When a section of the library grounds between our existing Appleyard Family Reading Garden and the parking area became available to redevelop, my first thought was, ‘This would be a great Eagle Scout project.’ I reached out to Troop 18 and was delighted that Michael jumped at the opportunity,” Mulholland said.

Michael, who is a resident of Marlboro and a student at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, Highlands, took Mulholland’s suggestion of “a low maintenance area with native plants that could be a sort of teaching garden” and expanded upon that to create an attractive and welcoming space, according to a press release from the library.

Michael sought the advice of Ciccone Farms nursery manager Ed Franczak to select appropriate plants. The nursery also donated to the project.

Other contributors included Home Depot, Freehold Township, with special thanks to service manager Tim Jacobs for facilitating donations of materials. Crystal Air Conditioning’s Brian Ringwald provided the use of trucks and tools to move more than 50 plants, mulch and equipment on several occasions, according to the press release.

A new garden needs plenty of water and Chef Michael Maggio at the neighboring American Hotel provided free access to the hotel’s supply.

“Special mention goes to Joe Floudas and his amazing Freehold Borough streets and roads crew,” Michael said.

Beyond the initial work of clearing the project site, Floudas and his team provided reclaimed paving stones for hardscape access to a bike rack, installed a waste basket to encourage proper disposal of litter, and restored a bench for the public’s enjoyment, according to the press release.

In addition to the garden’s aesthetic appeal, Michael has registered the site as a Monarch butterfly waystation with Monarch Watch. Capitalizing on the “teaching garden” concept, he created laminated pages (available inside the library) with more information about the featured plants.

“Finally, I would like to give a big shout-out to Mrs. Silver and all the scouts and parents from Troop 18 who generously gave their time, hard work and advice,” Michael said. “And there were so many other people who stopped while they were passing by who offered us their thanks and good wishes. Their praise and enthusiasm kept our spirits up.”

The library has received positive feedback from the community, according to the press release. Christine Gregory, a frequent library visitor and member of the Freehold Borough Shade Tree Commission, followed the progress of the garden from the beginning.

“This new garden is not only beautiful, but a source of information about the plants. People can see them and think, ‘I could plant that in my garden.’ ”

Mulholland said that over the years, the Freehold Public Library, East Main Street, has benefited from several Eagle Scout projects, including the restoration of library tables and chairs, the construction of custom cabinetry and shelving, the placement of a patio and picnic table in the Appleyard Family Reading Garden, and donations for the library’s book collection.

“We could not be more happy with Michael’s Eagle Scout project and we wish him the best on his journey toward Boy Scouting’s highest rank,” Mulholland said.