Profiles: May Tsupros of Gardeneers

Every month on our Profiles blog series, Coffee & Conversation showcases some of our most outstanding projects from our community members. This month we're talking to Victor from The Remote Lifestyle and May from Gardeneers! Victor has been infusing the C&C community with his knowledge and passion for making the side hustle a viable business. May has been a part of the C&C community from the beginning and it has been amazing to watch her nonprofit not only grow, but flourish. 

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May: Instagram

Gardeneers: Website - Facebook - Instagram - YouTube

What is one major accomplishment you have had with your business recently?

I feel infinitely fortunate for so many things that have happened in the last three years. Most recently, we had our first big fundraising gala at the end of October and we raised nearly $200K. WOWZERS! Really though, I always feel the proudest and most successful when I see kids loving healthy food and growing it themselves.

What is coming up for you and your business that we should be on the lookout for? 

During the growing season we are a staff of 17, but only 6 people stay on full time through the winter, next year though, we are going to be hiring two more full time positions in development and community building (YAY!) I AM SOOOO PUMPED (like brings me to tears to think about) for the community building position. We are also moving forward with a strategic plan to bring more diversity to our staff; which is something non-profits generally struggle with, and we're going to be serving five NEW schools next growing season. Increasing the total number of schools and students who receive experiential, garden-based nutrition education every week to 25 and nearly 2000 respectively. 

What does collaboration and abundance mean to you?

To me, collaboration means building a network of support. The more you spread the conversation, your ideas, and joy around the more it comes back. You listen to others, you learn from others, you get each other's back and visa-versa. Collaboration means not having an ego, but being open to realizing there are always more ideas out there and ways to approach situations. Being an island is lonely and sharing success with the people who helped you along the way is always more gratifying.

What is one tip you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Be humble and listen to really hear, not just to respond. OH, I have another one. FIND YOUR PASSION!

What is one person, place, or thing in Chicago you have your eye on right now? 

I always got my ear to what's happening in the food movement in Chicago, but there are two big things I am particularly interested in: 1. food waste-- we have GOT to figure this out and 2. Leslie Fowler, CPS Director of Student Nutrition Service-- I want to see where she goes with school lunches and making them better for our kiddos.

Anything else you'd like to add? 

If anyone wants to barter for garden produce or honey, let me know-- I am trying to start an alternative economy. Also, C&C is an incredible resource so if you are even slightly considering it, GO! You will not regret it!

Levi Baer

Chicago, IL