Explore the Garden
Both sides of the Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden will be open unless programs necessitate closing one side or both sides. The Children's Growing Garden will be closed for school programs on spring and fall weekday mornings.
It's the perfect place for children to engage with nature, with raised garden beds at just the right level for little arms to reach toward the soil. Budding gardeners and future scientists "learn by doing" in the Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden as they water, weed, and harvest plants, guided by expert instructors in the sort of hands-on learning that makes a lasting impression. On weekends during the summer, families can enjoy drop-in activities there, growing closer together as they get closer to nature.
Some Facts about the Children's Growing Garden
Green Plants and Green Design
The Children's Growing Garden is designed to be kind to the environment. A water-harvesting system for the entire site plus an "adventure station" rain barrel helps keep the plants growing; solar panels on the roof of the Tool and Potting Shed (actually an attractive support building) offset electrical needs and create a hot-water supply. The garden is surrounded by an open-weave fence covered with different varieties of climbing plants, creating a safe, enclosed space for space for children. Leading into the garden on either side of the stone walkway are two welcoming living walls covered in different species of sedum.
Several Kinds of Garden Beds
The Children's Growing Garden is divided into two outdoor garden classrooms, one featuring flowers with readily identifiable plant parts that is open to the general public for drop-in programs, and another that focuses on food plants and is designated for registered program participants. With a combined total of six raised beds, six in-ground demonstration beds, five display beds, and roll-under planting trays for students who use wheelchairs , the garden offers a welcome to all children. While children and other program participants water, weed, and even help harvest the vegetables in the growing beds, the demonstration beds (maintained by horticulturists) will show them what different food crops will look like when mature. The display beds add to the aesthetic appeal of the garden and include plants with readily identifiable plant parts.
Between the two gardens is the tool shed and a wood-and-brick pavilion where participants can gather for instruction or to rest, take shelter when it rains, and cool off in its shade. Horsechestnut trees in the garden will also provide shade in coming years.
The Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden is made possible through the generosity of Esther Grunsfeld Klatz and Ernest A. Grunsfeld III; the Robert R. McCormick Foundation; the Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden; and the support of the Public Museum Capital Grants Program, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois State Museum; Lorraine Ipsen-Stotler; the Hekman Gordon Family; Barbara and Richard Metzler; the Woman's Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society; the Colonel Stanley R. McNeil Foundation; and Make It Better Magazine.