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Flowers and Nature and Bonsais, Oh My!

Chicago Botanic Gardens is a wonderfully beautiful place to visit – 26 gardens including a waterfall garden, loads of prairie, and acres and acres of water. But did you know they also offer educational opportunities?

Our friends at Chicago Botanic Gardens talk about the challenges of city gardening and practical solutions.

Making Ends Meet

While urban farmers realize some benefits from their city location (access to markets, customers), they also have a particular challenge of limited space and actual soil in which to grow. How can urban farmers take advantage of their unique location while facing the challenges of their situation head-on to maximize the short growing season here in northern Illinois? The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest department offers training in some solutions. 

Through short courses in various topics like Edible Landscaping, Rooftop Farming, Season Extension, Business and Entrepreneurship for Small Farms, and Value Added Products, urban farmers learn best practices “in the field” and visit urban farms and farmers who are putting these solutions to work for their farm businesses. Designed for individuals with some growing experience, these courses are hands-on and offer practical ideas that urban farmers can put to use immediately to help boost production and sales.  One student from the Business course reported “It was great to take an ag-based business class with other like-minded people interested in growing.  Great opportunity to learn from others.  [I] loved having guest speakers, good diversity [of students].” While farming can be a solitary endeavor, these courses offer an opportunity to network and learn from others while growing your business.  A student from the Season Extension class explains “I’ve gained knowledge pertaining to building low tunnels and other cost effective ways to prolong my growing season. Explaining my crop plan with other classmates allowed me to build my communication skills and share what I know.” 

Courses are offered in spring and fall and there are still slots available for courses that begin September 9. To register and for more information, visit:

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