He’s Got It Made for the Shade
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By Alana Melanson
CHELMSFORD -- Joe Farina saw how much becoming an Eagle Scout meant to his uncles and cousins, and wanted to achieve the same honor.
Driven by a love of community service, this summer Joe became one of the youngest members of the Spirit of Adventure Council to earn Boy Scouting’s highest rank at age 13.
“I’ve seen a lot of the older scouts age out right after they earn their Eagle, so I didn’t want to have like, three days, before my 18th birthday to try get it all done,” Joe said.
Joe officially became an Eagle Scout July 19, a little more than a month shy of his 14th birthday.
Having worked on constructing a rock wall for the irrigation pond and pump station at Sunny Meadow Farm the previous summer as part of his Boy Scout Life Rank requirements, Joe was familiar with the farm and the people who use and care for it -- and the lack of shade at the site.
Joe and a crew of about 18 Boy Scout and adult volunteers assisted with the project, which was completed over about six weeks in the spring, ending May 7. Members of Joe’s troop, Troop 74, and Troop 75 participated. Together, they completed nearly 170 volunteer hours.
“Most Eagle Projects are around 100 hours or less, so his was quite a bit more,” said Joe’s dad, Paul Farina.
One of the most time-consuming pieces was digging the holes for the structure’s six posts. Because of the proximity of a gas line, some of the holes had to be dug by hand -- through “a ton” of ledge and rock, Farina said.
An adult helped Joe submit plans and obtain a building permit from the town, set up inspections and bring DigSafe to the site.
Of the $1,850 Joe raised for the project, $1,400 came from the town’s Community Action Program. The rest was small donations. The cost should have been higher, but area businesses -- including Chelmsford Lumber, O’Connor Hardware in Billerica and Home Depot locations in Methuen and Nashua -- provided substantial discounts for materials and equipment rentals, as well as other donations.
Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship Director Phil Stanway, a mentor for numerous Eagle Scout projects around town, said Joe’s shade pavilion is one of the highest-quality projects he’s seen. The heavy-duty structure shouldn’t require any maintenance for 25 years, he said.
Stanway said the multifunctional pavilion provides many options for those who use the farm and its community gardens.
“The scout went above and beyond to provide an area so that our older gardeners don’t get exposed to too much sun, and a place for kids to play and sit,” he said.
Stanway said it can be used for educational purposes, and provides a space for such groups as Central Congregational Church volunteers to sort and pack the produce they grow for the local food pantries. A gate built into the adjacent fence also allows for easy loading and unloading of materials to and from vehicles, he said.
Lee Williams, who has a plot at the community garden, said her family has already taken advantage of the shade pavilion and seating in and around it. During a recent visit to the garden, it was a great place for her 87-year-old mother to rest, she said.
“I watched it go up, and you could tell from the beginning it was going to be a really sturdy, well done project,” Williams said. “It was very exciting to see it go up, and they did a great job. We all really appreciate it here.”
Other than the work he’s done at Sunny Meadow, Joe enjoys volunteering at the Wish Project and the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop in Lowell.
Joe’s Eagle Court of Honor will be held Oct. 21 at the Central Congregational Church. Because he’s completed several merit badges beyond the Eagle Scout requirements, he will also be presented with bronze and gold Eagle Palms.
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