Marlboro Boy Scout completes Eagle project at community garden

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MARLBORO – A Marlboro resident has added an improvement to the Marlboro Community Garden as part of his efforts to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.

Sidharth Raj, 17, is a Boy Scout in Troop 85, which is chartered by the Robertsville Volunteer Fire Company in the township.

For his Eagle Scout project, Sidharth designed and installed temperature sensors in the Marlboro Community Garden on Tennent Road.

According to a description of his work, the main project involved installing remote IoT sensors in the compost bins of the Marlboro Community Garden. The sensors track temperature and moisture data from the compost piles as they are actively converting garden waste to compost.

Because composting depends on micro-organisms, keeping the compost pile at a specific temperature and moisture allows the process to be more efficient and go faster.

The sensors post collected data to a website and chart the data on graphs in real time so gardeners can view the data from home and notice trends or long-term change, according to the description.

Sidharth’s project was sponsored by Ellen Simonetti, the volunteer manager of the Marlboro Community Garden and chair of the Marlboro Shade Tree Committee.

Simonetti said Sidharth explained that he wanted “to design and install sensors in each of our four compost systems with a link that would allow any of the 80 member families of the garden to remotely monitor the temperature and moisture levels of our ‘cooking’ compost.

“With the graphs his sensors provide, we are now able to optimize the conditions that transform garden waste and leaves into compost, a valuable soil amendment.

“Sidharth not only developed the code for the system, installed the sensors and provided links that are working to provide the promised information, he also continues to monitor the system, making adjustments and improvements as necessary and practical.

“Before installing the sensors, he led a group of his fellow scouts is bringing the bins up to optimal functioning by aerating, sifting and filling the individual parts of the systems as needed.

“He did a very good job of leading his helpers, especially with the additional demands of COVID-19. … Our garden is very fortunate he chose us for this project,” Simonetti said.

Sidharth is the son of Sunder and Surekha Raj. He is a senior at Biotechnology High School, Freehold Township, and has been a Boy Scout for six years. Prior to that, Sidharth was a Cub Scout in Pack 86 for four years.

A date for his Eagle Scout Court of Honor has not been scheduled.

According to its mission statement, the Marlboro Community Garden “is dedicated to the support of recreational community gardening. It enables gardeners to grow produce using best gardening practices.

“Benefits include preservation of green space and production of quality produce as members work collaboratively and share information about gardening techniques.

“The Marlboro Community Garden also provides an educational forum for the members to expand their horticultural knowledge through cross-cultural and inter-generational connections, and fosters community pride,” according to the mission statement.

The garden is operated by the Marlboro Shade Tree Committee and is comprised of 106 individually assigned plots in a township park adjacent to the Morganville Volunteer Fire Company.

Special gardens at the site include a perennial garden, a pollinator garden, a communal herb garden and a Monarch Butterfly way station, according to information posted on the Marlboro Community Garden webpage on the municipal website.