GLEN ELLYN — Glen Ellyn resident Tina Koral has been interested in gardening since working in her mom’s vegetable garden when she was young.
After starting her own landscape design business in 2010, she decided to share her knowledge of vegetable gardening to help needy families in the area grow their own food.
Koral founded the GardenWorks project last year with her husband to provide gardens to four families through a partnership with the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry. This year, Koral hopes to expand the project to include 10 families served by other organizations in the area.
Where did you get the idea for GardenWorks?
It all started on a routine trip to the Glen Ellyn Public Library with the kids in January 2012, when I came across the book “Reclaiming Our Food” by Tanya Denckla Cobb. ... I grabbed it and checked it out without reading anything more than the title. When I got home, I opened this book and read the very first section, “Giving Gardens to People in Need,” I was inspired to do just that. I talked to the hubby and he agreed that it was a good idea because we believe everyone deserves access to organic, fresh vegetables.
How does the project work?
This year, we are again working with the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry to identify families who are interested in receiving a garden. We have also teamed up with Bridge Communities in Glen Ellyn and People’s Resource Center in Wheaton. They will be helping us distribute applications to any of their clients who wish to participate. Based on how successful our fundraising is, we will determine a number of recipients for 2013. We are hoping for 10. Then in the spring, we will assemble volunteers to help us install the gardens and provide coaching throughout the season.
How can community members help?
We have just launched a Kickstarter campaign. People who are interested in contributing to the project can become a backer and get some great rewards in return. We will also start a T-shirt fundraising campaign through ProjectBoost, a Glen Ellyn resident-owned company. We are also looking for folks who would like to volunteer to install the gardens at the homes of the recipients and more to serve as garden coaches. A garden coach is someone who has some expertise in backyard vegetable growing and a willingness to follow up with the families throughout the summer to answer any questions and offer advice.
What do you hope to accomplish through GardenWorks?
Through this project, I hope to eliminate hunger, one garden at a time. Even though we live in an affluent area, many people still go to bed hungry, and many of them are children. Food pantries often have a difficult time obtaining and storing produce, so growing food at home makes fresh, organic produce available to families who can’t normally afford it. I want to help families will grow their own healthy, organic vegetables where they live in ways that are affordable, promote self-reliance, strengthen communities, and protect our natural resources. Anyone who is interested in contributing to or volunteering for the GardenWorks project can visit www.gardenworksdupage.org for more information.
About Tina Koral
Residence: Glen Ellyn
Family: Husband, Joe; children, Averie and Joey
Education: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and master’s degree in public health from Benedictine University; certificates in landscape design and construction and sustainable landscapes from College of DuPage
Notable: Founded GardenWorks, a project that provides needy families the opportunity to grow their own food