Earning a Girl Scouts Gardener Badge is one way to help your troop raise awareness about the importance of protecting our earth. While it has been a tumultuous year so far, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Now more than ever, we may be seeking ways to help our Girl Scouts give back to their communities.
The Girl Scouts Gardener Patch is designed to recognize girls who have successfully completed an activity that brings them closer to learning what it means to tend a successful garden and how plants grow and thrive. Here are ten ideas to help your troop earn their badge; choose one or a few and help young girls realize that they really can have a green thumb.
Start a Kitchen Herb Garden for The Family
A great way to foster an interest in cooking in the kitchen is by starting a kitchen herb garden. It’s easy for kids to enjoy cooking and experiment with new foods when they begin to see how herbs they grow themselves are used to create delicious meals. Consider starting from seed, a few popular herbs like basil and cilantro. Your Girl Scouts can plant the seeds and tend to them over the course of a few weeks. Once the herbs flourish, have them help by snipping a few basil leaves for homemade pasta or dicing some cilantro for a delicious afternoon snack of guacamole and tortilla chips.
Plan Your Ideal Backyard Garden on Paper
Whether space allows for a backyard garden or not, it can be fun to plan an ideal garden space on paper. Have your troop research on which plants will work in your area of the country and when they would need to be planted. They can then sketch out their ideal garden landscape, what they would plant and how they would lay it out. Pore through gardening magazines for ideas and let their imaginations run wild.
Grow a Butterfly Garden for Your School or Church
Have your troop research native plants and flowers that attract pollinators like dragonflies, butterflies, and bees. They can make phone calls to local nurseries and figure out where to purchase the plants. Collect the plants and create a butterfly garden at a church, school or nursing home in your area.
Grow a Miniature Garden for Your Bedroom
Gardening does not have to be an elaborate undertaking. Miniature gardens can be just as satisfying and fun to create. Collect chia seeds, miniature pebbles, and small miniature dollhouse-sized toys and create a vignette on the inner surface of a large plastic lid (like those from orange juice containers or pickle jars) This is a great way to upcycle unused items and the finished product won’t take up much space. Simply water the seeds, wait for them to sprout and you’ve got a cute desktop decoration. This would also make a great gift for a special friend or grandparent.
Learn How to Read Seed Packets and Plant Labels
Scouts can learn what the information on seed packets and plant labels mean. Simply compile a variety of packets and labels and point out the various parts. You’ll learn the common name and Latin name of the plant as well as the best season for sowing and harvesting. The packet and labels will also tell you how large to expect the plants to grow, how often to water it and provide information about sunlight and watering tips.
Start a Tomato Container Garden
Take a trip out to your local farm stand or nursery and purchase a variety of starter plants for each girl. Provide proper starter soil and fertilizer and have them transplant the starter plants to the containers. The size of the container will depend primarily on where the container garden will be located.
Learn How to Re-pot a Plant
Repotting plants that have outgrown their original pot is a fun and easy activity for most ages. Simply have the girls tip the pot over and guide the plant out of the pot gently. From there they can transplant it into a bigger pot, fill with additional soil, press down and water. This is a simple activity that teaches how delicate plant roots can be and why transplanting is important to ensure healthy growth. It’s a fun, easy way to earn a Girl Scouts Gardener Badge if you’re short on time and space.
Go On a Wild Edibles Walk
Consider seeking out the services of an expert in wild edibles in your local area to bring your Girl Scout troop on a wild edibles walk. Each region of the country offers a wide variety of native plants, some edible and some not, that are just waiting to be discovered. Learn about how to spot edible dandelions, chickweed for salads, hosta for sauteeing and wild blackberries that are safe to eat. Finding a reliable foraging instructor is key but heading to your local farmers market and talking to farmers is a great start if you’re unable to find someone you trust right away.
Keep a Botany Nature Journal
Nature journals have become increasingly popular as we move toward a more minimalist mentality. Consider purchasing small watercolor paper sketchbooks and having your troop use botany books like Botanicum to recreate the plants in their own journals. You could also facilitate regular nature walks where girls can sketch, paint and label the plants they see in person. A portable watercolor kit, mini sketchbook, and a few pencils are all you need to create gorgeous, nature journals.
Teach Younger Kids About the Plant Life Cycle
If you’re leading a Girl Scout Troop of Cadettes or Juniors, consider having them teach younger Daisies and Brownies about the Plant Life Cycle. Have the older girls lead a nature walk to collect a few flowers to dissect. Scouts can then dissect the flowers by hand and discover and label the various parts of a flower. This is a great opportunity to talk about pollinators and the many benefits of bees. The Turn This Book into a Beehive activity book provides a wide variety of ideas and activities for all ages.
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is the perfect time to recognize the It’s Your Planet—Love It! Leadership Journey. Help your Girl Scouts take action, earn a Girl Scouts Gardener Badge and protect our precious earth.