Local scout improves library garden for Eagle award

Aug 30, 2022

The Wareham Free Library’s public garden just got a lil’ spiffier, thanks to one local Boy Scout.

Galen Lauer made improving the library’s Children’s Learning Garden his Eagle Scout project. About a year later, the project is complete, and the garden’s already played host to many library programs over the summer.

“He’s been a longtime volunteer,” children’s librarian Marcia Hickey said. “He always wanted to do something for the library.”

Lauer, 16, is homeschooled, and Hickey said public libraries are especially loved by home-schooled students. They often get their books through their public libraries, Hickey said.

“Without public libraries, homeschooling would be nearly impossible for all but the wealthiest families,” Galen’s mom April Lauer said. “Because it’s not enough to buy the curriculum. You need good books.”

Today’s technology isn’t necessarily a total replacement for print materials either, the family said.

“Even with computers, libraries [are] still a very valuable resource,” Galen said.

Plus, his mom was a six-year library trustee, April said.

So when the time came to find a focus for his Eagle Scout project, the choice was clear.

Galen and April talked about the Eagle Scout project while nestled in cozy chairs at the library on Monday, steps away from the garden outside.

April said the scout asked the library staff what they might need help with when he began planning the project last year. After some discussion of his options, they settled on improving the Children’s Learning Garden.

The library’s garden is where Hickey and other librarians host summer programming for patrons, including storytimes where children learn about working in the garden and then go home, fresh veggies in hand.

The library grows herbs, squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in the garden, Hickey said, pointing out the bowl of cherry tomatoes in front of her desk, available for patrons to take.

For his project, Galen set to work earlier this year constructing fences for portions of the garden, putting up trellises, setting up brick borders for the garden, sanding and repainting wooden walls and building a planting box that’s accessible to wheelchair-users.

Also, he made vinyl covers for the wooden benches that line the garden, which children use as workbenches during library programs.

Altogether, the project was expected to cost about $1,000, April said. But when Galen went to Lowe’s and explained his idea, he got a 75% discount, she said. Then, a kind owner at an Acushnet upholstery business donated a load of vinyl material, so Galen could create double the amount of bench covers he was planning on for the garden.

After pulling together help from his family, fellow scouts and even some Troop No. 39 alumni, Galen’s project was completed in mid-June, bringing him a big step forward to becoming an Eagle Scout.

“Just seeing everybody come together to help finish the project,” was Galen’s favorite part of the process, he said.

Now, the library’s gardens are fenced in, protected from munching critters. Plants hang from new trellises, and when it’s time for children to learn how to wash vegetables, they can pull out their bench mats to work outside.