Alumni Business - Andy Berg
Founder | Garden of Eatin' Kenosha
2016 | Business Management
How the Garden began...
At the Garden of Eatin-Kenosha, our mission is to provide fruits and vegetables to local soup kitchens and pantries. My wife and I live next to power lines. I looked at the wasted space not being utilized. I found out from the power company that they allow residents who live next to their power lines to use up to 20 feet from the property line as they would like, as long as they explain to them what it’s being used for and the power company approves it. I had been in the Army for 12 years at the time we created the garden, and I was a correctional officer. I like to do for others.
I was also learning about macro and micro nutrients in my Sport & Fitness Nutrition course at UW-Parkside. I put everything together in my head while day dreaming in class and decided that I would create a community garden with a different take on a community garden. This garden would be operated by the community. The community would provide the seeds, tools, equipment, time, and monetary needs, and we would donate the harvest to local soup kitchens and pantries. There is always a need for micro nutrients in our low-income neighborhoods. So when you tie everything together, that is why I wanted to create the Garden of Eatin-Kenosha: for the community.
Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?
I was a full-time employee for the state, had two children at the time, and Parkside fit those needs of being so close. Plus, I am a Bears fan and the mascot of Parkside is a Bear!
How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?
Because of the Community Based Learning Certificate courses I was taking, along with my Business Management courses, I created the Garden of Eatin-Kenosha. What we do is plant fruit and vegetable plants and the gross majority of what we harvest is donated. Some of what we harvest is used through partnerships with local restaurants.
The December before I graduated, I decided to run for the Vacant District 10 Kenosha County Supervisor position. After elected, I did my best to meet many of the County staff. One gentleman in particular was surprised when I lauded his achievements for the county as a Project Manager. One thing I noticed over the past five years is that too many governments do not employ Project Managers. That is a little unsettling. By the way, it was Professor Jordania Leon-Jordan who helped me understand the slack table.
Advice for current UW-Parkside students who want to run a non-profit organization?
NETWORK. Go outside of your comfort zone. Running a non-profit is no different than a business when it comes to risk, time, and stress. Part of networking is finding those that have certain skills sets that will better your non-profit, like accounting, marketing, logistics, coordinating, grant writing, and business writing. If you have free time, sit in on some of the classes I just mentioned. Find those students that seem very engaged and grasp the concept being taught and speak to them to see if they have an interest in your idea. They may be a good Board Member or Executive Board Member.
I would also suggest meeting local elected officials. Find out what seats are opening up on boards, commissions, or committees and apply to become a member. You will learn a lot and it looks stellar on resumes.