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 started.
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.