2019 – 2020 Chicago Learning Garden Workshops

We love sharing Learning Garden knowledge and resources at our seasonal workshops. All workshops are after school from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted), all are free of charge to Big Green network teachers, parents, and anyone directly supporting their school’s Learning Garden. CPDU and STEM credits are always available, and children are welcome. All our workshops feature seasonal garden skills, relevant classroom resources, garden-based cooking and tasting activities, and opportunities to network and learn from other school gardeners. We will be distributing all seeds and seedlings, fertilizer, compost, and other material resources at workshops so even if you’ve been before please make sure a representative from your school is able to attend and receive your garden supplies. This year our workshops will continue to include breakout sessions to support both novice gardeners as well as those who have been gardening for years with students. We encourage teachers to bring a colleague or parent from their school to extend the impact of the Learning Garden to more of the school community. See below for more information and links to register. 

Back-to-School Workshop (Resources can be found on our blog here) August 21 – 23 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Join Big Green Chicago for our annual back-to-school fall garden workshop to prepare for a great year in the garden. At this hands-on workshop, we’ll build community over a catered lunch and cover the following garden skills:

  • Planting and harvesting summer and fall crops
  • Preparing a classroom recipe with students
  • Hosting a farm stand
  • Harvesting and curing sweet potatoes
  • Setting garden goals and planning a fall timeline (this would be great to do as a garden team, so we encourage you to invite others from your garden team or school to the workshop!)
  • Leading a garden investigation tour with students

Garden Resources: Johnny’s Selected Seeds bucket, and Suståne 4-6-4 organic fertilizer. Locations:

Register here: Tuesday, August 20 –  Roosevelt High School (North) WORKSHOP AT ROOSEVELT IS AT CAPACITY PLEASE REGISTER TO ATTEND MANN OR GUNZAULUS Register here: Wednesday, August 22 – Mann Elementary School (South) Register here: Thursday, August 23 – Gunsaulus Middle School (Central)


Winter Learning Garden Workshop (Resources can be found on our blog here)

NOVEMBER 5-7 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Wind down the growing season by learning how to harvest your fall garden, plant and grow garlic, and plant cover crops to protect your soil throughout the winter. Your efforts this fall will ensure a healthy garden next spring! We will cover the following garden skills:

  • Harvesting fall crops
  • Planting garlic and winter cover crops
  • Preparing a classroom recipe with students
  • Identifying and supporting perennials through the winter
  • Seed saving in the Learning Garden
  • Garden team roles and team building for a strong spring

Garden Resources: Winter Garden Plan, Garlic bulbs Classroom Resources: Seed saving and harvesting Locations:

REGISTER HERE: Tuesday, November 5, 4:30-6:30: Brighton Park Elementary (Central) REGISTER HERE: Wednesday, November 6, 4:30-6:30: Bateman Elementary (North) REGISTER HERE: Thursday, November 7, 4:30-6:30: Cook Elementary (South)


Gardening for the Future: Learn how regenerative agriculture in the Learning Garden supports the health of people and the planet.

February 5 & 6 from 4:30-6:30

Come and learn how to grow small grain cover crops (oats and buckwheat) in your Learning Garden as a part of an annual crop rotation plan. Learn about practices on large scale conventional farms that are impacting our environment and health and how regenerative practices that create permanent living roots and cover in and on soil can have a tremendous impact improving environmental and human health. Learn new recipes to cook and eat whole grains and where to source them locally in Chicago. Garden Resources: Cover crop seeds, crop rotation garden plan. Classroom Resources: Soil investigation activities, whole grain nutrition activities Locations:

REGISTER HERE: Wednesday, February 5, 4:30-6:30: Moos Elementary (North)

REGISTER HERE: Thursday, February 6, 4:30-6:30: Farm on Ogden (South)


Spring Garden Workshop March 17 – 19 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Celebrate the advent of spring as we plan for a new growing season! Join us to learn how to organize your planting day, plant with students, and manage the care of your spring garden. We will cover the following garden skills:

  • Responding to changes in weather
  • Supporting fast plant growth – soil and water
  • Identifying sprouts/weeds
  • Rolling/On-going harvesting
  • Tasting: serving garden produce in the cafeteria

Garden Resources: Spring Garden Plan and Suståne Concentrated Compost Classroom Resources: Germination and plant needs Locations:

REGISTER HERE: Tuesday, March 17: Randolph (South)

REGISTER HERE: Wednesday, March 18: Jamieson (North)

REGISTER HERE: Thursday, March 19: Greene (Central)

Summer Garden Workshop May 19 – 21 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Wrap up the school year with a harvest celebration, then plant a summer garden with the goal of growing heat-loving summer crops or low-maintenance cover crops–whichever suits your school’s summer plans best! Join us to learn how and to get supplies. We will cover the following garden skills:

  • Summer planting: seedlings vs. cover crop
  • Transitioning from spring to summer garden
  • Transplanting seedlings, planting potatoes, planting 3 sisters garden
  • Trellising
  • Watering with the irrigation system
  • Strategies for maintaining summer gardens
  • Interplanting/companion planting, weed ID, and strategies, and/or crop rotation
  • Spring crop classroom tasting activity

Garden Resources: Summer Garden Plan and summer seedlings Classroom Resources: Harvesting, seasonality, and plant parts Locations:

REGISTER HERE: Tuesday, May 19: McPherson (North)

REGISTER HERE: Wednesday, May 20:  Ruiz (Central)

REGISTER HERE: Thursday, May 21: Black Magnet – Main Building (South)