CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Sundays, 16-year-old Ben Canfield and his family attend services at St. John's Episcopal Church. It was there that he became familiar with Manna Meal, planting the seed for his Eagle Scout project.
"Every Sunday I see how they work," Canfield said. "It feels really good to be a part of that."
Canfield and his friends were out in force a few Saturdays ago to work in the Manna Meal Community Garden. He organized the project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, and the effort encompassed leadership skills, organization of materials and people, and some good old-fashioned hard work.
Canfield went to Jean Simpson, head of Manna Meal, who sent him to the Community Garden committee meeting in February. There Canfield asked how he and his fellow Troop 31 Scouts could help. The committee's first priority was the installation of a fence for protection from hungry deer.
The Scouts installed 350 linear feet of 8-foot-high black mesh fencing around two parts of the garden. Canfield ordered the fencing online after some local research. Manna Meal paid for the materials. They got help from the garden's landowner, who used the bucket of his tractor to drive the fence posts into the ground.
The crew also worked on a new compost area using straw bales. They mulched bagged leaves into the new area, mixing in compost from an old pile. The hundreds of bags of leaves, collected by the state of West Virginia's General Services Division, came from the lawn of the Capitol Complex last fall.
The garden now has a "Lead Gardener of the Day" who coordinates the projects and the volunteers. Volunteer Gary Brown was on hand to lead the Scouts in spreading lime, phosphate and potash over different parts of the garden.
About 25 Scouts and parents came out to help Canfield, including Randy Williams, who was on spring break from college. Williams was also in Troop 31 and Canfield had helped him with his Eagle project, so he stayed in town an extra day to return the favor. Jim Porter is scoutmaster. The troop is based at the Baptist Temple in Charleston.
Canfield has been scouting for five years, and he's proud to say his father, John, is also an Eagle Scout. Younger brother Alex is in the troop, and mom Dianna helps out by shuttling the boys to their numerous meetings and activities.
Canfield will present a notebook detailing the project to a local Scout board of review, and if approved, they will send the paperwork to Texas for final approval.
But the Charleston Catholic High School sophomore said the Eagle Scout project is just the beginning of his life of service.
"I enjoyed volunteering, and I will do it for the rest of my life," Canfield said. "Working in that garden on that Saturday, I was imagining the hundreds of people it will feed, and it felt so good."
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.