From garden boxes to chicken boxes

Henny+Roo’s owner keeps passion for philanthropy alive.

Koral, owner of Henny+Roo, and GardenWorks Project volunteer.

In a previous post, we talked about how Tina Koral, owner of Henny+Roo started the first subscription box for backyard chicken keepers back in 2015. But it wasn’t her first time starting something that was new to many people.

Back in 2010, after years of work in the nonprofit public health sector, Tina decided to head back to school, this time for a horticulture degree. She’d always loved gardening, and thought that starting a landscape design business would be a great way to help support her family while staying home with her two kids. “I loved learning about plants, the soil, and design concepts,” said Koral, “but studying plants ended up leading me in an unexpected direction.”

Koral was strolling her local library with the kids, and made her usual pass through the gardening section. One book caught her eye – Reclaiming Our Food, by Tanya Denckla Cobb.

In the book, she learned about The Home Gardening Program led by Dan Barker, which was building food gardens for families in need in the Portland, OR area. She was intrigued, and knew that nothing like it existed where she lived in DuPage County, IL, yet there was a large population of food-insecure families. Tina had a strong desire to help supplement the shelf-stable food that these families were receiving from food pantries with fresh, organic, homegrown produce, and in the process teach her young kids the value of philanthropy and helping others. Working closely with Barker and the Home Gardening Program, she began planning how she could serve these families using the HGP model. She connected with her local food pantry to find four families who were both in need of food, and wanted to learn how to grow their own food at home. Alongside these families, she and her husband and kids built these families a 4′ x 8′ raised bed garden, filled it with soil, and planted it with the vegetable seedlings that the families selected. The GardenWorks Project was born.

Koral and her family get their hands dirty every spring building gardens for families in need.

After a writeup in a local paper, more people wanted to get involved, and the organization grew. To date, Gardenworks has built close to 400 vegetable gardens for families in need with the help of over 200 volunteers, and the impact continues to grow each year.

Tina’s role has changed over the years, from founder, to executive director, to board member. But if you’ve ever tried to turn your passion into a business (or in this case, a nonprofit), you know how disillusionment can set in as you move further away from the passion that lead you to start the business in the first place. If you’ve read the popular book, The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber, you know what we’re talking about. Tina was spending more time doing paperwork than building gardens and serving families. She stepped down from The GardenWorks Project Board of Directors in 2018 in order to have the time to get back to what she loved about the organization – the hands-on work – and now serves as a garden builder.

This leaves her more time to dedicate to connecting pet chicken keepers with the poultry product companies that care about the health and wellness of your flock. Through Henny+Roo, she is also able to support awesome programs like Coops for Troops, and Adopt a Bird Network with our Glory and Hazel fundraiser pins.

Glory, our patriotic hen and fundraiser for Coops for Troops.

Leave a comment and let us know what you’re doing in your community to help people and animals in need!

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