Megan Szymaszek gently pushes the web of green leaves aside to reveal a cucumber, ripened by the recent rain and the warmth of the late summer sun.
"Mom, look at this one," she says, excited that her patience has paid off.
Like any dedicated gardener, Megan has gotten used to pulling weeds, but picking time has been put on hold.
That's because this garden was sowed with a special purpose, one that will earn Megan and a group of close friends the Girl Scout Bronze Award.
Megan is one of six Junior Girl Scouts from Troop 62650 in Durham that has tended the small vegetable plot tucked away in the backyard of Ron and Claudette Mysling's Cherry Lane home.
Planted in June, the garden has blossomed of late, evidenced by the crop of cukes and handful of dark red peppers and red-orange cherry tomatoes.
"We usually water them from a rain bucket. We have to check on the stuff to make sure it's not rotted," says the anxious nine-year old, who has been making weekly stops at the garden, but had yet to pick a single ripened vegetable.
On Wednesday, Megan finally got her chance.
After spending part of the afternoon carefully choosing nearly two dozen ready-to-eat cucumbers, Megan and fellow junior scout Willow Small, 10, of Durham, delivered seven pounds of vegetables to the St. Vincent de Paul Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown, which provides groceries and warm meals to local families in need.
"It'll make me feel really proud of helping people," Megan says.
Megan's mother Lisa says the troop has set a goal of donating 100 pounds by the end of the season, to celebrate the Girl Scout's 100th anniversary in 2012.
To reach that goal, Troop 62650 has teamed up with JC Gardens and Midway (Steve's) farm stands located along Route 68 in Durham to collect additional produce to donate to Amazing Grace.
Lisa also points out that two Durham residents, Warren Herzig and Jim Libby, helped till the garden and install the fence that now surrounds it.
Junior Girl Scout Troop 62650 members:
Megan Szymaszek, 9, Durham
Makalya Cesario, 10, Middlefield
Jenna Berens, 10, Durham
Willow Small, 10, Durham
Stephanie Finaldi, 10, Durham
Margaret Fiondella, 10, Durham