My Volunteer Experience

I first joined The Gardenworks Project, hoping to learn about gardening in the Midwest, after moving here from across the country. My hope came true, tenfold!

For our first garden, we planted in large pots. I never knew that you could grow plants such as lettuce and kale in pots. We yielded more than enough for our family! I attended informative workshops held at The GardenWorks Project Resource Center in West Chicago. It was there that I learned about the Food Growers Network and the benefits of becoming a member. One of which is being able to pick out twenty seed packets from a huge variety of donated seeds.

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I selected seeds that I normally wouldn’t think about growing such as butternut squash, peppers, Chocolate Cherry, Rainbow blend cherry, Black cherry, and Baby Roma tomatoes. Our kids started to get excited about the garden and even started eating the tomatoes right off the vine! I made simple tomato sauces, oven dried tomatoes, and froze butternut squash for later use. I even upped my salsa game, using the serrano pepper plants I got from The GardenWorks Project.

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We keep it simple and organic, amending the soil with mushroom and food scrap compost from the bin in our backyard. Something I learned from attending those workshops at the Resource Center. This year our goal is to grow enough vegetables to donate to our local food pantry.

There’s several opportunities for you to volunteer with The GardenWorks Project. Being a part of the garden builds is easy and only takes about an hour of your time. The coaches that coordinate the garden builds are warm and inviting and have a teaching spirit. You don't have to know all about plants and gardening - it's judgement free, uncomplicated and fun. I love that my entire family is welcome. In fact, people of all ages and abilities are genuinely welcomed and accepted. It's one of only a few places where children younger than teens can actively give back to our community, which is so important!

Being involved with The GardenWorks Project and been a positive experience for our family. Our kids are very involved with our garden and have grown to understand and appreciate the importance of fresh veggies, well maybe not kale. Raising a child with special needs has taken a toll on our finances. I love that I've learned so many simple and inexpensive ways to grow organic food for my family. Coaches and board members such as Ted, Robin, and Tina have been a wonderful resource and are always eager to answer my questions. I joined The Gardenworks Project hoping to learn something and help others, never expecting that it would have such a profound effect on my life as well! 

 

Thank you to our wonderful volunteer Phoebe for this inspiring post!!