2018 – 2019 Chicago Learning Garden Workshops

We love sharing Learning Garden knowledge and resources at our seasonal workshops here at Big Green Chicago. All workshops are after school from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted), all but Worm Composting are free of charge to Big Green network teachers, 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 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
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:

  • Harvesting summer crops
  • Planting and harvesting fall crops
  • Preparing a classroom recipe with students
  • Hosting a farm stand
  • Identifying insects and biodiversity in the garden
  • Plant life cycles in the Learning Garden
  • 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!)

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


Register here: Tuesday, August 21 –  Von Steuben High School (North)
Register here: Wednesday, August 22 – McNair Elementary School (Central)
Register here: Thursday, August 23 – Shields Middle School (South)


Office of Student Health & Wellness PD
August 24 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Join Big Green as we partner with Gardeneers to present physical fitness, and simple “back-pocket” Learning Garden activities to support physical education and create opportunities for brain breaks out in your school garden.

Friday, August 24 – Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHAS).
Participants can register on Learning Hub searching Course Code 41521 or “OSHW Back to School PD SY18-19.”


Winter Learning Garden Workshop
October 16 – 18 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: Garlic bulbs

Classroom Resources: Seed saving and harvesting


REGISTER HERE: Tuesday, October 16 4:30-6:30: Bass Elementary (South)
REGISTER HERE: Wednesday, October 17 4:30-6:30: Gary Elementary (Central)
REGISTER HERE: Thursday, October 18 4:30-6:30: Cleveland Elementary (North)


Worm Composting Workshop
January 16 & 17 from 4:30-6:30


Walk away from this workshop with everything you need to create nutrient-rich compost for your Learning Garden, right in your classroom. Your students will love their worms!

Garden Resources: Classroom worm composting kit (bin, bedding, and worms)
Classroom Resources: Decomposition, soil, and worms
Materials Fee: $15 – includes worms, bin, beneficial nematodes, and bedding.


Wednesday, Jan. 16, 4:30-6:30: Arturo Velasquez Institute (South)
Thursday, Jan. 17, 4:30-6:30: Stowe Elementary (North)

Spring Garden Workshop
March 19 – 21 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


Register Here for Tuesday, March 19: Beethoven (South)
Register Here for Wednesday, March 20: Calmeca (Central)
Register Here for Thursday, March 21: Von Linne (North)


Summer Garden Workshop
May 21 – 23 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 seedlings
Classroom Resources: Harvesting, seasonality, and plant parts


Tuesday, May 21: Joplin (South)
Wednesday, May 22Schurz (North)
Thursday, May 23: Edwards (Central)