The President's Circle

Dear President's Circle Members

Kraft Foods GardenOn June 13, the Chicago Botanic Garden and Kraft Foods celebrated the opening of the 8,000-square-foot Kraft Foods Garden, an innovative program that addresses critical needs of our community. In three prominent locations at the Kraft corporate global headquarters in Northfield, we are growing vegetables, herbs, and fruit. In 2011, we will harvest and donate more than 14,000 pounds of produce to local shelters and nonprofit agencies, including the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and to Woman, Infant and Children centers in Lake and Cook Counties.

In addition to helping more families enjoy the nutritional benefits of fresh, locally grown produce, the Kraft Foods Garden is creating new jobs for skilled workers in sustainable urban agriculture. The entire Kraft Foods Garden has been designed, installed, and managed by staff of our Windy City Harvest community education program. The crew foreman is a 2010 graduate of the Windy City Harvest certificate program and each member of his three-person crew successfully graduated from our garden program with the Cook County Sheriff's Boot Camp.

Boot Camp is an alternative sentencing program for young men convicted of a nonviolent crime. The program provides inmates with valuable education and training in sustainable urban gardening and commercial composting. Graduates, like those employed at the Kraft Foods Garden, get the chance for paid employment at a critical point on their path to a better life.

I am deeply pleased by the nature of our new partnership with Kraft Foods. This collaboration will directly improve the well-being of families and gives Kraft employees the opportunity to volunteer in the new corporate garden or take classes taught by Windy City Harvest staff on sustainable gardening.

The Kraft Foods Garden is one of many ways the Chicago Botanic Garden is growing to meet the needs of the diverse audiences it serves. For more information on our other community programs, such as Green Youth Farm, as well as on the Garden’s record-setting accomplishments during first year of our ten-year strategic plan, I encourage you to read the 2010 Annual Report and to frequently monitor our progress on the Keep Growing strategic plan website.

In 2010, 61 percent of contributions to the Garden’s Annual Fund were from members of the President’s Circle. I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart. Your exceptional generosity and support is what enables the Chicago Botanic Garden to keep growing. I look forward to thanking you in person at one of our upcoming President’s Circle events.

With appreciation,

Sophia Siskel
President & CEO
Chicago Botanic Garden