Building School Gardens

Since the launch of Building School Gardens (BSG) in 2007, Openlands supports 58 Chicago Public Schools on their campus. Through this program, approximately 33,000 students are directly impacted by the school gardens each day in addition to the hundreds of teachers, parents, and community members.

BSG boasts a 93% success rate two years after garden installation, far higher than the national average of 40%. A key component that directly enhances the program’s success and sustainability is the robust support that Openlands provides to each school through our workshops.

Currently, Openlands has paused constructing new school gardens and is using this opportunity to strengthen the support that we provide to the existing school gardens. If you are interested in starting a school garden, we encourage your Garden Team to use the manual below as a resource to help guide you in developing a successful school garden.

Download the Building School Gardens Manual.

Photo: Tony Armour and Lisa Miller


Building School Gardens Workshops

Vegetable Gardening Basics

Who: Any member of your Garden Team: teachers, staff, parents, community members, etc.

What: It’s never too early to start planning for your school’s vegetable garden. At this workshop you will hear from an expert organic gardener on how to prepare and nourish the soil,  what to plant when, and what plants are best for school gardens.  Participants will create a vegetable garden layout specific to their school garden. Each participant will receive seeds that will get them started on their spring season planting! CPDUs will be provided.

Where: Tonti Elementary, 5815 S Homan Ave, Chicago, IL 60629

When: Saturday, March 11, 10:00 AM – 2:30 PM

Cost: $45


For more information, please contact

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Owner & land manager: Chicago Public Schools

BMO Harris Bank is the Principal Sponsor of Building School Gardens.


Funding for garden development provided by the City of Chicago. Additional funding provided by Peoples Gas, The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund, and the Winnetka Garden Club.