FORT KENT, Maine — A group of area Girl Scouts is learning it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference when everyone is willing to do something for the environment.
“This year our annual project was designed around learning about water,” said Susan Boulay, Girl Scout Troop 481 co-leader. “The girls did some brainstorming and came up with the idea to supply rain barrels around town to promote recycling of water.”
The plan was simplicity in itself.
The girls collected 55-gallon plastic barrels, decorated them with colorful paint and went in search of community garden projects in need of some extra irrigation resources.
“This was a good and fun idea,” said Troop 481 member Megan Boulay. “We need to save more water and not use so much [and] working with the gardens we got to be outside.”
One barrel was placed earlier this summer at a 4-H-sponsored garden in St. John Plantation.
This weekend several of the troop members and their mothers were at the community garden at Fort Kent Elementary School to set up a barrel for raised beds tended by Laura Audibert, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener.
Together with fellow Master Gardeners Heidi Carter and Joan Lee, Audibert tends four raised beds of flowers, herbs and vegetables.
“We don’t have any ready access to water for the plants,” Audibert said as she lugged gallon jugs of water to the plants Saturday morning. “It’s going to be really handy to have the water right here in the barrel.”
In addition, Audibert hopes to work with youngsters such as the Girl Scouts within the garden plots by establishing a garden club.
“It’s important to get kids involved so they will know where their food comes from,” Audibert said. “Plus, it gets them outside.”
Working together, Girl Scouts and troop leaders rolled a barrel that had been outfitted with a spigot, overflow hose and screen top into position near the community garden Saturday morning.
“You guys did a great job decorating it,” Audibert said. “This is going to make watering a lot easier.”
The barrels were only part of the overall water-based program, said Carter, a troop co-leader.
“The girls learned so much about water and how important it is,” she said. “For example, they learned that in some parts of the world kids their ages have to walk five miles a day to get water for their families.”
To bring that lesson home, Carter said, the troop leaders developed an obstacle course over which the girls had to carry buckets of water.
“I really saw how hard it was to carry the water,” 7-year-old Brice Carson said.
For their part, the girls have become community water-watchers, starting with their own families.
“I learned we use a lot of water we don’t have to,” Elizabeth Dufresne, 8, said. “Now we turn off the water when we brush our teeth at home and take shorter showers.”
After getting the barrel into place, several of the Scouts picked up gardening tools to help Audibert with weeding and composting.
“Look at that,” Audibert said with a grin. “Maybe I already have my garden club.”