Two Months After Tornado, At Walnut Grove It's 'Business As Usual With, You Know, Some Adjustments'

Oct 7, 2020

On the afternoon of August 10, a tornado ripped through Walnut Grove Vocational Farm in Kirkland. It took down trees, destroyed crops and demolished one of the farm's greenhouses.

"It looks a little strange out there," said Jacki DiNatale. She's the communications director for DeKalb County Community Gardens. "It's kind of like, you know, something was there, but you can't quite put your finger on it right away."

But a new greenhouse has been ordered and DiNatale said it should arrive within three weeks.

"We are really up against Mother Nature's clock," she said. "All of this building and rebuilding needs to be completed before the ground freezes. It's kind of out of our control at this point." 

The storm damage added up to tens of thousands of dollars of destruction, but DiNatale said the community has been "amazing."

"Volunteers immediately showed up to help with storm cleanup," she said. "Some even shared equipment to help with the big jobs and many people across the county made personal donations, large and small."

She said the community support has been so great that they've been able to "pretty much do business as usual, with, you know, some adjustments." However, they still need help maintaining their programs and getting ready for next year's growing season, which begins in February.

"It's not that far away and that is where the urgency is," she said while also emphasizing the importance of their vocational program. 

"Walnut Grove brings together young adults with developmental disabilities and teaches them agricultural and horticultural skills that, hopefully, provide them with a sense of place in our community," she said. "The really great upside would be that they're employed with those skills in the future." 

And she talked about needing volunteers to help with Box of Hope. With this program, members may receive fresh produce over the course of 20 weeks. Learn more here

DiNatale said the vocational program and ending hunger in their community are "the crux of what we do" and that volunteers are what keep it all going. 

"The DCCG and the board of directors want the community to know just how very grateful we are. We have had so many who have donated and volunteered to our ongoing efforts." She added, "But there are always things that people could come out and help with."

Click here for information on how you can volunteer.