Autumn is the perfect time for gardeners to enjoy the fruit of their labors – enjoying fresh vegetables.
For many people in Stark County, being able to afford fresh produce at a store is unattainable. Jackson High School freshman Alex Olesen decided to change that for families. Olesen’s Eagle Scout project was designing and building raised gardens at his church, Life Hope.
"Our church has a food pantry," said Olesen, the son of Jill Smith and Tom Olesen. "We did not have many vegetables. So I decided to grow a raised vegetable garden."
In order to build a raised garden, Oelsen needed to raise about $650 to buy his supplies.
"I raised the funds for the project by bussing tables at Ci Ci’s pizza," said Oelsen, who enjoys playing basketball, plans to run track for Jackson and is a member of the Chinese Club. "Ci Ci’s also donated 10 percent of the proceeds one night. I had a few friends help that night – Mike Moser, Philip Barron and Kyle Sanders. Geissinger Plants in North Canton donated the plants. The project took about a month to complete."
After raising the funds, Oelsen said he used Pinterest to find the design he wanted to build his garden. Oelsen made three, four- by eight-foot beds. He said he drilled holes in the corner and used a dowel rod to hold the beds together. The garden was completed by mid-June.
"At first, small animals started to eat the plants," said Oelsen, who has an older brother, Andrew Smith. "He said the church put chicken-wire fence around the garden. The garden produced a good harvest."
Oelsen has been in the Boy Scouts for four years. He explained the benefits of being in the Boy Scouts.
"Being a Boy Scout gives me a sense of accomplishment," said Oelsen. "I learned a lot doing this project. I learned how to fund raise. This also taught me about leadership, commitment and dedication to a goal.
"The benefit of being a scout is you have the opportunity to try different things through the different merit badges. I am a well-rounded individual. I have had a chance to learn a little bit about everything. It has given me direction in my life."
Through the different badges, Oelsen may have found his future career.
"I like metal working," said Oelsen. "I might want to be a welder or work with metal. But I also like swimming. So, I might want to be an underwater welder. This could lead to a specialty job on an oil rig. Scouting can definitely help you find your future."