Arya Shadan grows Marin City’s Community with an Intergenerational Garden

Isabelle Davis

Earning an Eagle Scout badge through the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is a challenging feat and an accomplishment respected by many. The mission of the BSA is to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” There are seven total ranks within BSA, typically leading the scouts to participate in the program for four to six years to earn the Eagle badge, the highest possible ranking. According to Northern Star Scouting, only six percent of scouts make it to the Eagle rank. 2022 Redwood graduate, Arya Shadan, has dedicated most of his youth to BSA and earned the Eagle badge at the end of his senior year. 

“Scouts is about development, not about gaining the ranks or [the title]. [The badge] is more than just an achievement, it is a part of you,” Shadan said.

In Marin County, there are eight different troops one can be part of. Until he got his Eagle badge, Shadan was a member of Troop 48 in Tiburon. There are three main components to becoming an Eagle Scout: rank advancement, merit badges and a service project. For his project, Shadan helped build a garden in Marin City in hopes of providing the community with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Flattening the soil in his garden, Arya Shadan begins to build the infrastructure.

“It [is] a functioning garden that provides resources and fresh food to the community. In Marin City there is a Target with a grocery store inside, [but,] there’s kind of a food disparity there. A lot of people don’t realize it,” Shadan said. 

According to the Marin Food Policy Council, Marin City doesn’t have a grocery store for its residents. Residents have poor diets, and 75 percent of the adults are overweight or obese which leads to further health issues.  

Since Marin is generally thought of as a wealthy and healthy county, many residents don’t notice this food disparity. Shadan became aware of the issue and utilized his resources to help better the community

Jim Arce, the scoutmaster who is in charge of Shadan’s troop, played a big role in supporting Shadan with his service project and his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout. He helped Shadan come up with the idea of a communal garden and worked with him in the garden. 

 “[Shadan] picked the Marin City Senior Center and helped design and install an intergenerational garden on a hill behind the Senior Center. That garden will be a gathering place and a place for [the community in Marin City] to grow their own fruits and vegetables for decades. What [Shadan] has done will leave a lasting impression on this community,” Arce said.

During this project, Shadan learned about self-advocacy and developed new leadership and initiative skills to use in the future.

“You have guidance from mentors in scouts and others that you involve yourself around; However, it’s up to you so how you do [your service project] depends on your own discipline,” Shadan said. 

Shadan created the first plan and layout of where the planters would be, in addition to other aspects such as the stairs to the main part of the garden. 

“My focus on the garden was mainly the infrastructure and the initial phase of the garden to get it up and running,” Shadan said.

Rearranging the gravel and soil, scouts and other construction workers are beginning to lay out the main components and infrastructure of the garden.

Since Shadan’s initiation of the space, there have been multiple other Eagle projects within the garden. Other scouts built new features, such as more garden planters and irrigation. 

However the primary goal of being a boy scout is not to achieve the rank of an Eagle, but to learn and grow through the journey. Jennifer Hartung, a mother of two boy scouts, explained the importance of the BSA in one’s life. 

“[Boy scouts is] a worthy thing to share about because it takes a lot of effort and time for these kids to become Eagle Scouts. There are very few accomplishments that you can achieve as an 18 year old that you’ll still be recognized for as a 50 year old,” Hartung said. 

Not only does scouting provide service to local communities, but it also teaches young adults, like Shadan, how to become contributing members of society.

“By the time my journey was over, I went through many struggles and fun experiences of scouting, and I learned who I am,” Shadan said. “I spent so much time [with the scouts] and it became a part of me.”