I am delighted for President’s Circle members to be among the first to learn the Chicago Botanic Garden has been awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that makes possible an important, far-reaching program.
Thanks to this grant, during the next three years the Garden’s conservation scientists and native seed specialists will teach interns in the Garden’s Windy City Harvest program how to prepare, plant, and maintain a one-acre native plant seed farm in the south or west side of Chicago. The students will learn how to harvest seeds in the field, at the appropriate time, and how to clean and store them using resources in the Plant Science Center.
Following development of a business plan, seeds produced at the farm will be sold in a commercial marketplace fueled by a growing interest in the benefits provided by landscaping with native plants. The seeds will also be used to grow additional seed farm plants or, when needed, to replenish seed bank inventories depleted by withdrawals made to meet the critical needs of conservation research and restoration projects.
As one IMLS reviewer wrote, “It is hard to imagine that one project could possibly be so far reaching, and yet this inspirational project is.” I couldn’t agree more! The program will provide valuable job skills, create new jobs, expand our knowledge about urban farming, and instill hope for a better life. The native seed farm will develop much-needed green space in an urban environment—improving the quality of life for the people who live there, all while making a positive contribution to addressing climate concerns. Furthermore, if the test program achieves its full potential, this Chicago Botanic Garden initiative could become a model for similar programs throughout the country—programs that help people, plants, and communities keep growing.
I will share more details with you in coming months. In the meantime, should you wish to learn more about Windy City Harvest—the successful program that made the IMLS grant possible—please consider attending an open house on September 1. You can email or call Angie Mason at (847) 835-8254 for more information and to RSVP no later than August 23.
While summer is quickly coming to an end, we are fortunate the Garden offers beauty and inspiration four seasons a year—and in every season of life. Let each of us enjoy every day to its fullest. We are truly lucky to have this magnificent garden in our own “backyard,” where I look forward to seeing you—soon!
My very best to you and your family,