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Green and Growing Summit

Join us for a new annual event focused on gardening in education. Our goal for the Green and Growing Summit is to amplify participants' knowledge of garden, nature, and sustainability education through workshops and networking opportunities.

Exploring Garden Education

The Green and Growing Summit is designed to strengthen the connectivity of Chicago’s garden education movement by building on the work of the Green Teachers Network and the CPS Garden Educator Cohort. The summit is open to all growing enthusiasts, whether they are classroom teachers, urban agriculturalists, or community members.

This year’s theme is to “Imagine What’s Possible” when we harness our creativity and envision the abundant future of green and growing schools and communities. Participants will leave the summit feeling supported, energized, and inspired.

The inaugural Green and Growing Summit is organized in partnership with Openlands, Healthy Schools Campaign and Advocates for Urban Agriculture.

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Saturday, May 6, 2023
8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
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Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
3857 W 111th St, Chicago, IL 60655
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Teachers, educators, urban agriculturalists and community members.


 8:00 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.
Registration & Breakfast
 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Opening Remarks
 9:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Keynote Address
 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
Workshop Session 1
 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Workshop Session 2
 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Workshop Session 3
 9:45 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Resource Fair

Keynote Speaker

  • Selma Sims

    Selma Sims

    Selma Sims is the chief executive officer (CEO) and Head Grower at Gardeneers, Chicago’s only custom full-service school gardens program, which builds and maintains school gardens in 17 Chicago Public Schools and involves more than 1,700 middle school student participants from Chicago’s South and West Sides.

    As CEO, Selma envisions and shapes how Gardeneers grows and distributes food, engages and educates youth, and partners with the community. She also stewards donor relationships and champions staff empowerment opportunities.

Summit Artist

  • Sarita Hernandez

    Sarita Hernández, Marimacha Monarca Press

    Sarita Hernández is an arts educator, oral historian, and print/zinemaker from salvadoréxican Califas based in Chicago. Sarita is co-founder of marimacha monarca press, a queer and trans people of color artist familia based in Chicago’s South Side since 2017.

    They are the piemaker and creamdreamer of @pleasurepies, a DIY pie shop-artist project. They are interested in artistic interventions with the historical archive and imagining rasquache/alternative forms of social documentation, preservation, and activation of everyday histories, survivals, and resistances.


9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

The Natural World Through Inquiry

Inquiry-based STEM and sensemaking is a collaborative process that positions students as acting and thinking like scientists and engineers. This process encourages students to raise questions and to explore both phenomena in their world and their interests based on their own life experiences and backgrounds. By empowering students to share their own observations with questions that prompt their natural curiosities, teachers can facilitate better learning and develop a more conceptual understanding of science and STEM.

Location: Room 125
Speakers: Eleanor Sweeney and Christina Woods

Soil and Soul with Growing Home

We don’t just grow plants — we grow soil. Learn about what your garden soil needs to be healthy and thrive and explore questions like: what's the difference between soil and dirt? What does fertile soil look like? How do you "grow" it? And what about the soil inside of you — your soul ? What does your soul need to grow and thrive? This is an interactive workshop with microscopes, drawing activities, and fun mindfulness activities.

Location: Room 211
Speaker: Kenn Strickland

Fruit Trees in Small Spaces

Learn about the joys and challenges of fruit production in small spaces, with a special focus on dwarfing fruit trees, pruning techniques, and espalier tree training. Participants will explore the possibilities of adding fruit trees to their own backyard,  school, or community garden.

Location: Room 124
Speakers: Ben Balskus, Allen Cosnow and Tim Hamilton

Food Education, Movement, and a Sustainable Approach to Student Wellness

Learn about the benefits of including daily movement in students' academic routines alongside regular nutrition lessons to support their growth and well-being. Participants can expect to participate in 5-10 minutes of fun movement activities, a simple cooking demonstration lesson, and explore K-8 food literacy curricula. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring a water bottle, and come ready to jam!

Location: Room 128 then move to Room 126 for cooking
Speakers: Paul Floyd, Alejandro Gomez and Bryan G. Soto

Symbiotic Relationship: Community Pod Mapping

Explore the symbiotic relationships in nature as a metaphor for how educators and youth workers can work together to be co-conspirators for environmental and climate justice. We will draw on Indigenous wisdom from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, using the metaphor of companion planting the three sisters and the naturally occurring symbiotic relationship of lichen, to deepen our connections and sense of interdependence in a pod mapping activity.

Location: Room 210
Speakers: Gaby Garay, Sarai Redmond and Irina Zadov

Quail & Chicken Chat

Have you ever wondered about keeping chickens or quails at your school? It might be easier than you think! Between the two, you’ve got options to raise and keep them in apartments, balconies, backyards, schoolyards, and more. Join this session to learn the basics about bird keeping and how they could enrich your classroom and your life overall. All are welcome!

Location: Room 214
Speakers: Amanda Anderson and Stef Funk

Student-led Tour

Sign up at the registration table for a student-led tour of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Green Writing: Nature’s Writers Workshop

Learn strategies for including more nature writing in the classroom. These teaching strategies are designed to help students foster a deeper understanding of nature, develop critical thinking skills, and learn to articulate their critical stance on the climate crisis.

Location: Room 125
Speaker: Jen Cullerton Johnson

Recipe for a Happy Garden

Learn the skills you need to grow a happy garden. This workshop will cover topics such as planting for Chicago’s climate zone, soil health, and celebrating your harvests. No green thumbs needed!

Location: Room 211
Speaker: Karen Fair

Outdoor Learning for Happy Teachers and Strong Kids

Learn about outdoor play as a simple, low-cost catalyst for social and emotional learning, cognitive development, health, and happiness. Educators, support staff, and family members benefit from outdoor early learning just as much as kids. Just by moving part (or all!) of the school day outdoors, early childhood classrooms can become engines of family and community well-being.

Location: Room 128, then outdoor
Speakers: Olessor Anthony and Teresa Weed

Intro to Beekeeping

Learn about honeybees, how to get them and put them into your hive, and take care of them so that they thrive. Participants will also learn about the unique challenges of beekeeping in an urban environment and Chicago-area ordinances.

Location: Room 214
Speaker: Naaman Gambill

The Future of Neighborhood Markets

Learn about resilient means of providing food to Chicago communities. This workshop is designed within a vision of environmental justice where the Chicago communities that are most affected by food apartheid are changing the narrative, building high-capacity gardens, and creating structures of vitality and health.

Location: Room 124
Speakers: Gina Jamison, Adonnis Platt and Nate Haefelin

Activate your Outdoor Space

Discover ways to engage in the green space around you, like a school playground or a backyard. Participants will sketch a blueprint of their space, create a sustainable goals, brainstorm appropriate activities and develop a team of stakeholders. Participants will also learn more about a CPS Space To Grow school playground and how the students engage with the space during the academic day and recess.

Location: Room 210
Speaker: Tiffany Watkins

Student-led Tour

Sign up at the registration table for a student-led tour of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Pollination Party

Learn about the importance of place-based learning through an exploration of the fascinating relationship between plants and pollinators. Participants will take part in hands-on pollinator experiences designed to be easily replicable and modifiable for K–12 students. The workshop will conclude with a student-led tour of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences pollinator gardens.

Location: Room 182, then move outdoors
Speakers: Michael (Chris) Hershier, Cynthia McGovern, Carolyne Banks and Naomi Dietzel Hershier

It's Easier Than You Might Think! Setting Up Your Seed Starting and Irrigation Systems

Learn about soil blocking and how to set up a raised-bed irrigation system. This hands-on workshop will cover topics such as crop planning, hardening off, transplanting, and irrigation set-up. Walk away with the resources for purchasing the supplies you'll need for keeping your plants healthy and strong all summer long, even when you go away for a few days. Come prepared to get your hands dirty!

Location: Room 211
Speakers: Monica Romano

Yummy, Easy and Tasty after School Snacks

Is your tummy rumbling loud for something yummy and easy to make? The team from Good Food is Good Medicine is here to help with the snack attack! Join to learn how to make yummy and healthy after school snacks. We'll be talking about the health benefits of ingredients while we give hands-on recipe instruction! We'll enjoy our snacks together and you'll go home with a list of ingredients and recipes. Students are welcome.

Location:Room 128, then move to Room 126 for recipe demonstration
Speaker: Jeannine Wise

School and Community Gardens Reimagined!

Learn how to create a practice garden design that stretches your imagination, incorporates native plants and flowers with vegetables and herbs to bring pollinators right to your crops, and encourages a diverse garden ecosystem. This type of garden creates learning opportunities around topics like the climate, nature and environmental stewardship, and food production, and helps address several other common garden challenges like funding and maintenance.

Location: Room 210
Speakers: Connie Kollmeyer and Kyla Muhammad

Intro to Aquaponics Education: Why Every School Needs an Aquaponics System

This workshop will cover the basics of Aquaponics, the challenges and rewards of successfully maintaining these systems, and why schools should provide students the opportunity to learn about closed loop systems. Attendees will also learn about Plant Chicago and its mission to cultivate local circular economies.

Location: Room 179, then move to Room 180
Speaker: Tom Knapp

Teaching Toward Bee Phobia: How to Build a Shared Language around Student Fears

With many insect populations declining, conservationists and educators have launched efforts highlighting the importance of pollinators and native bees. However, these efforts often ignore the complex feelings of urban children about insects. In the workshop, a veteran Southside teacher will share interviews, art and writing from students illustrating their bee phobias. Audience members will have a chance to draw and write about challenging experiences they have had with insects. How did those moments affect them? What must teachers learn before teaching about bees?

Location: Room 214
Speaker: Christopher Weber

Student-led Tour

Sign up at the registration table for a student-led tour of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

Gardening Resources