The Chicago Botanic Garden will get a little help this summer
with planting, although some of the new gardeners may look a little
small. On June 2, the new Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden will
kick off a summer of interactive programs.
The Botanic Garden has always offered children the opportunity
to plant, but in the past, it's always been in a pot the child then
took home, says Eileen Prendergast, Youth and Family Program
director. This is the first dedicated space where children can
plant and later come back to see how their contribution to the
garden is growing.
The 10,000-square-foot children's garden will be used for
drop-in and family programs, as well as summer camps. A number of
the growing beds are raised to accommodate wheelchairs for children
with disabilities. Classes for children as young as 2 will give
them the chance to plant and harvest. The area is enclosed so
children can roam safely.
"Our philosophy is you're never too young to appreciate
gardening and appreciate nature," Prendergast says. "It's difficult
to explain to a 4-year-old about pollution and global warming, but
if you can get them to love a plant or being outside, that will
stay with them."
The growing garden will offer drop-in activities 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Botanic Garden is also working on another area that will
appeal to children-The Cove. This pond will have a protected wading
area where kids can put on waders and check out aquatic life
up-close. The Cove is expected to open in the fall. A new Learning
Center with indoor classrooms also is in the works.
Entry to the Botanic Garden is free, although it is $20 to park.
For more information, visit chicagobotanic.org.
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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