I started volunteering with GardenWorks in 2015 after a friend suggested the organization knowing I was looking for more volunteer opportunities I could do with my young kids. The first year we volunteered we did a garden refresh. My kids were two and four and loved planting and watering the garden for the client. They love to volunteer each season and are professional garden builders now. After a couple seasons of doing builds, I took on more volunteering by becoming a lead and the following year started doing some behind the scenes data entry.
I only started gardening when we bought our house in 2008. My husband had always wanted a garden and put in a large raised bed that first summer. I knew nothing about gardening but planted a bunch of tomatoes and peppers and hoped for the best. Apparently I had somewhat of a knack for it. Fast forward several years and we now have three large gardens plus edibles planted throughout our flower beds and anywhere I can find an empty spot of dirt. Both my kids have been in the garden since they were born and at 5 and 7 are now avid gardeners themselves and love planning their own spaces.
In 2018, I helped organize a garden club at my kids school. We were lucky enough to receive the Community Garden Support Program garden bed frames from the GardenWorks Project. This provided us with the five frames and I was able to secure soil from AK Mulch in Villa Park and the Lombard Garden Club proudly supported our efforts. The Park View Garden Club was a huge success and surrounded by excitement throughout the students and staff. Within 24 hours of the application going home we had over 40 students signed up. The kids were excited to plan their gardens. They loved getting into the garden and planting and then watching the garden succeed all summer. The five garden beds produced over 300 pounds of produce! More than half of this went to the local food pantries and the students who worked in the garden over the summer were able to enjoy fresh produce as a reward for maintaining the garden. When garden club sessions resumed in the fall, students were able to sample popcorn and tomatoes that they grew. For some students, this was the first time the tried fresh tomatoes straight from a garden! It was a great project and we can’t wait to resume and start our 2019 gardens.
Since the end of 2017, I have been employed by GardenWorks as a Programs and Operations Coordinator. I handle some of our behind the scenes organization and data entry. Before having my kids, I worked for the Chicago Patrolmen's Federal Credit Union and have a Masters in Business so I get to use some of my past job experience (from before I was “Mama” as my kids would say). During the build season I enjoy organizing the schedule for our builds and coordinating the volunteers.
Can't wait to see everyone at the gardens this summer!