Even if you don't have a green thumb or well-worn hiking boots,
it's still possible to share a love of the environment with your
kids. Chicago is full of opportunities for little environmentalists
this spring. Check out a few of these locations to get your family
Now in its third year, this program (oneseedchicago.com) offers
the chance to grow together. Go online and vote for your favorite
native prairie seed through April 1. The winning seed will be
announced on April 24 at the Green and Growing Fair at the Garfield
Park Conservatory. Seed packets will be mailed to interested
Chicago gardeners at no charge. Families can share their growing
experiences on the Web site and at events in the fall.
The Green City Market (chicagogreencity
market.org) offers another great opportunity for kids to get
hands-on gardening experience. At the Edible Garden, kids can help
prepare the soil, plant, weed, harvest and even eat the garden's
bounty. Sara Gasberra of the Green City Market says that the
gardeners get to work as soon as the weather permits-usually April.
"Throughout spring, there is more and more stuff for kids to do in
the garden each week," says Gasberra.
Education Naturalist Sean Shaffer says spring is a great time to
explore this expansive Chicago Park District facility
(chicagoparkdistrict.com). "Families could find an interesting spot
and visit it once a week to observe the changes that take place as
the seasons change," suggests Shaffer. Don't miss the popular Maple
Syrup Festival on March 20-21. Visitors can experience the entire
maple syrup-making process-from tapping the trees to cooking the
final product. The free event also features a farmer's market,
storyteller and crafts.
The growing season kicks off with a plant sale on May 15-16
where families can buy organic seedlings for their home gardens.
Kids can also participate in programming designed to pique their
interest in gardening, says floraculturist Kirsten Akre. "I have
seen kids excitedly devour beets and cipollini onions-and that is
really what this place is about."
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.
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