We know many of you were not able to make it to our Spring Kickoff Volunteer Meeting on April 14, so we will give you a recap.
First of all, we were thrilled that 60 people attended! It was great to see our returning volunteers and new faces! We are very thankful that our mission of building home vegetable gardens for families in need of food pantry assistance is one that resonates with you, and that you wanted to get involved and get your hands dirty!
The meeting started out with a warm welcome from our board president, Paula Fraser. Next, Tina Koral, founder and executive director, shared a bit of our history, our goals for the year, and where we are going as an organization. We are building 40 gardens in DuPage County this year, more than doubling the 36 that we have built in the three years since we started. This spring, we are building 22 new ground-level and balcony gardens, and refreshing the gardens of 19 clients from last year with fresh compost, seeds, and plants. In August, we will build 18 new gardens, teaching our clients that home vegetable production need not stop in summer.
Attendees received copies of our new Volunteer Welcome Handbook and Garden Coach Handbooks that details what a new volunteer can expect, and the responsibilities of builders and coaches. You can access PDF copies of both booklets here.
Next, all attendees had the opportunity to sign up for garden builds. And after about 10 minutes, all of the spots were filled! Since then, we have added a very limited number of volunteer opportunities, so check your email for our upcoming newsletter for times and locations. We are so very thankful that these spots were filled, and at the same time are sorry that so many of you who want to volunteer may not get a chance this spring. Please know that we will have many more volunteer events this year at our fall garden builds and gleaning events. Sign up for our newsletter here.
Following the garden build sign ups, Kim Marsin, co-owner of Sweet Home Organics gave us tips for “humongous harvests,” and Cindy Crosby taught us about backyard composting. These ladies are both such dynamic speakers; we are so proud to have been able to share them with you! Some great links to composting information that Cindy shared appear at the end of this post. It’s not too late to pre-order locally grown, organic, and GMO-free veggies seedlings from Sweet Home Organics. Select “GardenWorks Project” at checkout and SHO will donate a portion of your purchase to support our mission.
After the presentations, attendees flocked to our freebie table and snagged veggie, herb, and flower seeds from their garden, tomato and pepper seedlings donated by the Morton Arboretum, and other goodies. Anyone who had signed up for a garden build received a snazzy GardenWorks Project t-shirt.
Those who have attended this meeting in previous years know that this was our biggest yet. The positive energy could be felt, which is to be expected when so many people come together to help our neighbors in need. We offer our sincerest thanks for coming out and being part of this organization that continues to grow and evolve. And to those who couldn’t make it, we will be in touch throughout the season with more chances to make a difference in our community. We couldn’t do this work without our volunteers!
For more information on volunteer opportunities with The GardenWorks Project, click here.