MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — After 200-plus hours of labor and multiple hands at work, Central Magnet School junior Casey Couch finally completed his Eagle Scout project: a mobile vegetable stand for The Journey Home Community Garden.
"We've been excited about having Casey work on this project. By having the vegetable stand, it helps draw awareness to the work we're doing as well as selling produce to help fund the work program we have going on," said Scott Foster, director and founder of The Journey Home community outreach program.
The 6-by-12-foot wooden stand is set atop a metal-framed trailer and features a fold-up window and fold-down shelves where baskets of produce can be displayed.
"It gives us the freedom to be able to take it to churches and other events where we wouldn't have been able to before," Foster explained.
The stand makes his third major Boy Scout project Casey Couch has done for The Journey Home, a place where he has volunteered a lot of his time in recent years.
"I got involved with Journey Home because I was in a Cub Scout den with (Scott Foster's son) Carson. I knew what Journey Home was and he'd brought us out (to the garden) to do some Cub Scout activities," said Casey Couch, a member of Boy Scout Troop 197, based out of Fellowship United Methodist Church. "It's a good group and I know the causes they are working for. I felt I really understood what they were doing (for the community)."
The Journey Home serves as an outreach for homeless as well as those struggling with hunger, housing and poverty. Hot meals are served daily, there's laundry and shower facilities, a clothes closet and employment assistance.
Casey Couch recently delivered the stand to TJH's garden, located on Barfield Road. But it's taken years to get it ready.
First the teen had to find a trailer that would work for his project. Ricky Comstock, a man Casey Couch bales hay for, had built one from scrap metal and donated it for the project. But it was in great need of refurbishment.
"He and I rewired it. Then we renovated it, because it was an old, black, rusted-out trailer," Casey said. "The paint was peeling off and all the wooden floor boards were rotted."
For almost two years, Casey, along with friends and family, spent long hours working on the project for nearly two years.
"It took everybody helping build it. There was a lot of prep work. They had to sand it twice and it took two different sessions to break the bolts out and bust the wood," said Tina Marie Couch, Casey's mother. "The bolts were so rusted, they had to use a grinder to get them out. They even had to wear special equipment."
When everyone got together for a work day, the Couch family made a fun affair out of it.
"We'd barbecue hamburgers and bring everyone in," Tina Marie Couch said.
The project, described as a labor of love, will continue to aid those in need for years to come, Foster said.
"It's good to have organizations like Boy Scouts to get involved in serving those in need in the community," Foster said. "And it's good to see it play out this way. Service is one of the core values."