Allison Gould, 14, enjoys gardening, so when she needed a project to earn the Silver Award in Girl Scouts, she turned to her hobby.
The teen organized the Millvale Junior Garden program at the new Millvale Community Library this summer.
Allison, a freshman at Fox Chapel Area High School, said she was familiar with the library thanks to her older brother, Bennett, 19.
"He had volunteered there, and I thought it would be a good place for my project," she said.
Allison lives with her parents, Sherri and Court Gould, in Indiana Township.
The library celebrated its grand opening Aug. 18, and Allison's project helped to decorate the new grounds.
She hosted the gardening sessions for youngsters in the Millvale area for nine weeks over the summer.
"At first it was kind of hard because I had to recruit kids to come, but then once they started coming, it went really well," Allison said.
Allison recruited children for the gardening programming by posting fliers around Millvale and sending information to the Shaler Area School District elementary schools.
Allison is a member of Girl Scout Troop 5143.
She said Scouts must complete 50 hours and write a review of the project for the Silver Award, the highest award a Cadette Scout can earn.
Allison worked 53 hours and will host a harvest party in the fall.
She also will continue to tend the garden until the end of the growing season.
Allison worked with Lisa Seel, the vice president of the board at the library to plan the garden.
"Allison really did most of the planning. We went through some ideas, then she came up with the projects and crafts and speakers," Ms. Seel said.
Allison purchased seeds and had the children help her plant them.
Some of the supplies had been donated to the library, according to Ms. Seel, and Allison's troop purchased the rest.
Every Tuesday morning, Allison and anywhere from three to 11 children, ages 5 to 10, would gather to plant and tend the garden.
"They learned all sorts of things -- not only how and what to plant, but how to take care of plants and what they need to grow," she said.
Allison also invited guest speakers for the program.
"We had a beekeeper come in and one week, someone talked about hydroponics," she said.
The children planted a variety of tomatoes, beans, lettuce, zucchini, tomatillos and sunflowers.
"We tried to plant watermelon, but that didn't go so well," Allison said.
As the plants ripened, Allison and her mother, Sherri, would freeze them so they can be used later in the fall for a harvest party.
Mrs. Gould said it was fun to watch Allison and the children work in the garden.
"Some of the children had never had fresh beans before. And some had only had eaten iceberg lettuce, so they loved it when they grew the leaf lettuce," she said.
Mrs. Gould and Allison plan on making salsa and chili out of some of the garden's harvest for the party for the children.
"Allison asked the children what they wanted to have at the party, and they chose the menu," Mrs. Gould said.
Allison hopes the children will take their new gardening skills and plant their own gardens in the future.
The Millvale Community Library is at 213 Grant Ave.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.