Announcing 2023 Garden for Nature Grantees

Posted & filed under Community, Grants.

Announcing 2023 Garden for Nature Grantees

We are pleased to announce our grantees for this year. We were overwhelmed by the number of applications this year and the quality of the projects.  The proposals thrilled us reviewers–so much creative and optimistic work being done out there! Our grant is funded by our members and our annual native plant sale. We anticipate that applications will grow next year, so if you are able to, we would appreciate donations to help fund next year’s grants.

Here are the recipients listed in alphabetic order along with a very brief description of their projects:

  • AGUA by A Just Harvest: They will install a native pollinator garden to support their edible gardens.
  • Bowmanville Nature Corridor by Bowmanville Community Organization: The Bowmanville Community Organization plans to revamp the garden as a pollinator and wildlife corridor featuring three stories of native perennials (canopy, understory and groundcover), while shoring up the section closest to the road with native grasses. The garden’s primary function is a green corridor for pedestrians, runners and families with strollers. It can therefore provide an immersive education about the benefits of native plants with tags, informational posters and activities.
  • Budlong Native Garden by Curb Climate Change: Curb Climate Change: They are building a pollinator native garden at the south entrance of Budlong Elementary School. In the crosswalk, students and community will pass through native grasses and flowers buzzing with life on their way to and from school. The aesthetics alone will change the mood of that intersection! Then, they will add awareness of native plants and their benefits to our ecosystem to their kids’ education. Next, they will teach the community how to copy our work. And, finally, they will build a bigger garden throughout our neighborhood that joins with others’ efforts to cover the city of Chicago in a “Homegrown National Park” as Doug Tallamy would call it.
  • El jardín del Armonía (Garden of Harmony) by Virgil I Grissom Elementary School: They will be starting a Monarch garden. The school has a garden club where students will be able to take care of the garden and continue to grow their love for nature. Teachers also incorporate planting and gardening in their curriculum.
  • Eugene Field Elementary School/Network49 Environmental Justice Pilot Project: The core activity of the Vine Trellis Pilot Project is to quantify heat mitigation by increased shade.  Its broader goal is building a neighborhood cohort of student and citizen scientists committed to community engagement and environmental justice.  
  • Girl Scouts Plant! by Girl Scout Troop 20270: Scout troop will build raised beds for perennial plants and native plants for the community.
  • Good Shepherd Rainbow Garden: They will convert parkway hosta bed to a rainbow of native plants. So creative!
  • Horst & Anna Wagener WEAR Garden by West Edgewater Area Residents: They are evolving their  30 year old community garden into a pollinator and butterfly sanctuary. Acquiring more native shrubs for the hillside is their main priority.
  • Jefferson Park Community Pollinator Garden: They have two project locations – both building on work done in the past year. Work by the Forestry building consists of a garden design that mimics a prairie – the area is south facing with full sun. The second area is around the Park Field House present more of a savanna or woodland ecosystem with part sun to part shade exposure.
  • Lincoln Elementary School Native Garden by Lincoln School PTO / Eco Kids Club: They will be purchasing native grasses/forbs to expand their native garden to areas where existing landscaping has been removed on the east side of Lincoln School. The Lincoln native garden was started by a former teacher in 2015 and the Eco Kids club has permission to maintain and expand the garden to unlandscaped portions of the property. The soil bed preparation and planting will be conducted by the 3rd and 4th grade students in the Eco Kids Club at Lincoln School with help from the Garden coordinators, teachers and the Green 4 Good PTO committee. 
  • Native Plants for Butterflies and Bees by Hepzibah Children’s Association: They will add more plants to the butterfly garden they started last year (they received a grant in 2022). Children help tend the garden. 
  • Native Raised Bed Pollinator Garden by Mills Park Tower – Garden Club: They’re a HUD subsidized Senior building with 200 residents. Last season, they installed a Native Pollinator raised bed garden “Butterfly Garden” to their existing garden of 6 vegetable raised beds, a flower garden, and some gardening containers. The new “Butterfly Garden” is strictly native pollinator plants.  They want to supplement the garden with additional native pollinators.
  • Oak Park and River Forest High School Environmental Club: The OPRFHS Environmental Club has been working on maintaining a native prairie garden just outside OPRFHS Fieldhouse. One goal of this garden project is to attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds. This garden not only brings students together but also improves and draws natural wildlife to the area. They seek to expand the goal of the garden to include community members.
  • Pilgrim Outdoor Classroom Pollinator Garden: This ongoing project is part of the Pilgrim preschool’s outdoor classroom and is cared for by the students and teachers. It is also beloved by the community and particularly the families who play nearby during the Farmers Market. 
  • Pollinator Garden Expansion by Council Oak Montessori School: They would like to focus on creating a space for endangered native plants to thrive and help to create a healthier ecosystem. This plot will be located about 20 feet across from the heritage garden. 
  • Pollinator Prairie and Wildlife Woodland by Congress Park Elementary School: In Spring 2023, the graduating 6th grade class at Congress Park Elementary School will replace up to 5,000ft2 of turf grass with native prairie and woodland plants for bees, birds and butterflies in hopes of leaving a legacy of environmental stewardship to future classes and the local community by providing an outdoor space where they can connect with nature.
  • Prairie Learning Garden at Compound Yellow: Their goals are to continue to add natives, and establish a native grass and sedge foundation into which native perennials are mixed in. Compound Yellow seeks to share its learning with members of their community who are also interested in natives and would like to establish a native plant garden in their yard. 
  • Riverside Community Garden Native Pollinator Garden: Their host site has cleared large evergreen bushes, so they will be able to create a native pollinator garden adjacent to their vegetable/fruit/herb beds. The Riverside Community Garden grows food to donate to food insecure in their immediate area; they also serve as an educational resource to novice/backyard gardeners and children in their neighborhood.
  • Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob: Improve a yard space with native plants; the garden will be cared by youth.
  • St. Paul’s Parish Native Garden Revitalization: A committee of volunteers embarked on a grounds revitalization project last year. They began by removing invasive species. Their goal is to create a garden that (a) features native plants to support the local ecosystem, (b) includes plants that flower throughout the growing season, (c) appears welcoming to the congregation, preschool families, and the wider community, (d) showcases the beauty of the church building, a historical landmark designed by William LeBaron Jenny in 1883, and (e) can be managed by a small group of volunteers. 
  • Theology of Ecology II by St. Edward Green Team: Theology of Ecology II hopes to expand (double!) the balance of their native plantings highlighting the harmony through nature in a courtyard dedicated to our church’s patroness. They began their first phase last year with a grant from us. We love the repeats who had success and are ready and willing to build on it. 
  • Third Unitarian Church Pollinator Garden: With help from the Mayfield Community Garden volunteers, they will be removing non-native plants and replacing the with native pollinator plants.
  • Untidy Objects by Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago: They are a small collective of three artists and one political theorist working to make our already always ongoing connections between and across species visible. Untidy Objects is an in-progress living sculpture on the South Side of Chicago that was initiated as part of a fellowship with the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry in 2021. Prior to this intervention, the space was an institutionally monocropped lawn with very little species diversity: Kentucky bluegrass, thistle and two oak species. They witnessed very few birds or pollinators and the soil was effectively dead. For the last two years, they have been remediating and terraforming this half-acre site with intensive companion planting and hugelkultur. The Untidy Object is an entity that is entangled, a holobiont that is co-constituting itself with other beings, human, plant, and animal. Their goal with this work is to argue that this entity should be an expanded political subject and deserving of legal protections. They have, to date, planted all non-invasive perennials but are committed to adding at least two fully native plant zones.

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