Openlands and Partners Celebrated the Attendance of Hundreds at the Inaugural Green & Growing Summit


More than 20 organizations sealed their commitment to strengthen Chicago’s nature and garden-based education movement

CHICAGO (June 21, 2023) More than 230 people attended the inaugural Green & Growing Summit in Chicago. Educators from around the city gathered to develop their skills in nature and garden-based education through workshops and networking opportunities. Over 20 organizations throughout the region participated in this event.

The theme of the summit was “Imagine What’s Possible.” During this day-long event, attendees took the opportunity to envision an abundant future of green schools and communities through creativity and innovation.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS), together with Openlands, the Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC), and the Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) hosted the summit to strengthen the connectivity of Chicago’s garden education movement.

“Community gardens can play a crucial role in the health and well-being of individuals and communities,” said Dr. Sofia Adawy Akintunde, CPS health director.

The summit was open to educators, farmers, students, and community members who attended workshops and heard from more than 30 speakers who work in environmental and sustainability education in Chicago.

Jessica Fong, director of education at Openlands, who also led the event said, “climate change is a worldwide threat, and Chicago is not exempt. The burdens of climate change are a huge challenge for the next generation. Our educators are on the front lines of this climate crisis, working to prepare and empower the next generation to steward the earth. Hence, the goal of this summit is to empower more climate champions and activists in formal and informal educational settings.”

The workshops were organized into five learning areas: Developing Environmental Stewards, Building Your Gardening Knowledge, Building Health and Wellness, Building Your Community and Capacity, and Building Your Care for Farm Animals.

The summit also had a lively Vendor and Resource Fair with over 15 organizations represented, where people could connect with each other.

“The event was amazing. My mom and I had much fun learning new gardening tips,” said a teacher from CPS who attended the event. “Events like this are vital to show future generations and their families that gardening and farming are still possible, even in a big city like Chicago.”

The attendees and all the staff who worked on the summit appreciated the efforts of all the community partners that made the event possible and that at the same time contributed to building a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future for the next generation.

This summit took place at the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences and is expected to be held again in 2024.


About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. Openlands works across areas to advance nature-based solutions to climate change, improve the health and well-being of communities, and create a more verdant region for all. For more information, please visit

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