Park Ridge Boy Scout creates ‘seed library’ and Saturday gardening event

A Park Ridge Boy Scout is partnering with the Park Ridge Public Library and the Park Ridge Garden Club to create a seed library, which will enable residents to get seeds and receive tips on how to grow them.

He is also conducting a Saturday event at the Park Ridge Public Library as part of completing his last requirement to achieve the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank, Eagle Scout.

At the event, scheduled for Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Park Ridge Public Library, 20 S. Prospect, Park Ridge, seventh grader Owen Hanba,12, who attends Lincoln Middle School, will present his seed library containing 5,000 seeds, field questions on how to plant and care for them, and offer children’s activities including planting a seed and making a seed-inspired bookmark. Hanba said the event will also include a raffle for gardening equipment.

Hanba, a Boy Scout for two years in Troop 1, said an Eagle Scout project requires Scouts to practice leadership skills, partner with a nonprofit organization, and give back to the community. He explained he chose his project because he was surfing the internet one day and learned that other public libraries offer seed libraries, and that he thought creating one for the Park Ridge Public Library would dovetail with his interest in gardening.

When asked about what he likes about gardening, Hanba said, “mostly just watching things grow and develop because at the beginning of the season, there’s nothing there, and at the end, there are giant blossoming flowers.” He explained he has grown peas, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers, and once ground up wheat he grew to make bread.

Boy Scouts can achieve their Eagle Scout award as long as they are under 18, but Hanba said he is intentionally doing it during middle school because he anticipates being heavily involved in high school activities like soccer and other activities.

Hanba said he had to fundraise about $800 for the project, much of which went to buy the former library card catalog that now houses the seed packets. He also spent money to buy supplies and raffle prizes for Saturday’s event.

Hanba and his mother, Alexandrea Hanba, said that 15 Scouts helped fashion 15 small origami boxes out of newspaper. Those who come to Saturday’s event can take one home, filled with dirt and seeds, and plant it, because the newspaper will biodegrade so the seed can take root.

Park Ridge Public Library cardholders can select up to 10 seed packets per patron on a first-come, first-served basis, according to library officials. The seed library will include more than 400 varieties of herb, vegetable and flower seeds, they added.

Alexandrea Hanba said she and her husband, who was also an Eagle Scout, are supportive of Owen’s journey in becoming an Eagle Scout, and that he has learned a lot through it.

“(Owen has) had to lead scouts that are in high school, and that has taught him a lot. I’ve been at some of those events where they may not be listening to him and he really has to be strong and tell him what he needs. So it’s been really fun to watch,” Alexandrea Hanba said.