project leader
Bill M
Back of the Yards and Woodlawn neighborhoods
(Chicago South Side)
latest update rss
Thank you!

the project

Chicago South Side locations will host different types of growing beds demonstrating how to create high-impact and low-maintenance flowerbeds, native plant species, pollinator habitats and edible landscapes that contribute to a local eco-system. Each of the locations will share plant material (seeds, divides, cuttings, etc.) and knowledge.  This project includes community outreach and gardening workshops to promote gardening and beautification in the neighborhood of each location. 

The Chicago Demonstration Gardens Project combines promoting urban public space beautification with job skills development for those with obstacles to employment in low income neighborhoods.  We plant to partner with organizations that have an existing job re-entry program..

This is a collaborative project of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network.  

GROW (Garden Resources of Woodlawn) will provide overall project coordination.  Each participating organization will recruit neighborhood volunteers to assist with the project work.  Participating organizations include:

  1) Pleasant Farms, Treeocracy and Plant Chicago, NFP (Back of the Yards location)

  2) GROW, Sunshine Gospel Ministries, Inspired Community Garden and Woodlawn Peace Center (Woodlawn location)

Google Map - Chicago Demo Garden Locations

Expected outcomes for the  project:

 - Create demonstration gardens that can be easily replicated in any Chicago neighborhood.

 - A prototype network among community gardening groups for sharing plant material (seeds, divides, cuttings,etc.)

 - Provide a variety of workshops for beginning and intermediate level gardeners.

 - Provide a job re-entry for people with barrier to employment through skills gained working in the demonstration gardens.

Sample signage for a garden -- with QR Code

We've started our garden designs:

Visit for more information about our project.


the steps

After IOBY campaign funds are received, about April 22, here are the project steps for each location:

1.       Refine work plan for the remainder of the project.  Include who does what, due dates.

2.       Order materials needed.

3.       Conduct ongoing volunteer training as needed.

4.       Refine plans for job entry program participation: training, work schedule, supervision, payment to participants, partner organizations.

5.       Prepare garden beds.  Schedule volunteer workdays.

6.       Prepare plant signage and educational information, with more info directing to the web.

7.       Plant growing beds.  Mostly starting in May, continuing perhaps through much of the summer at some locations.

8.       Maintain new plantings

9.       Observe and Document successes/failures to share with public through open-source e-content.  Publish plant assessments, lessons learned.

10.   Overall Project report. What should we do differently next year? Publish by Oct. 15. for open-source e-content.

11.   Report results yearly?   Hopefully we will continue with this effort, and be able to report in five years (or more?) to what extent each of the growing beds is still being maintained, by whom, etc. Also creating an open-source web site where other demonstration gardens can published as they become available.

why we're doing it

Chicago neighborhoods lack spaces that bring awareness to low maintenance gardening techniques that  implement the use of beneficial native plant species, pollinator-specific habitats, and functional edible landscapes. 

The Chicago Demonstration Gardens Project overcomes this deficiency by demonstrating an easy to follow and replicate guide to anyone interested in developing their own community-involved educational space.  The Chicago demo garden project will provide spaces where urban community residents may learn, interact with gardening projects that benefit themselves and the spaces they live.


DISBURSEMENT BUDGET (as of 4/13/15):

RAISED = 944.00
less ioby Platform Fee  waived
less ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) 44.95
less 3rd Party Payment Processing Fee (3%) 27.50

Item Cost
Back of the Yards Projects  
   plant material $300
soil amendments $75
signage $61
Woodlawn Projects  
   plant material $300
soil amendments $75
signage $60
               Total $871



Item Cost
Pleasant Farms - The Plant  
   50 wildflower plants $300
   compost $100
   manure $50
   top soil $50
Other Projects  
   plant material (starter plants and seeds) $1,500
   soil amendments $1,000
Job reentry prep - stipend and wages for participants $2,000
       New total as of 3/11/15 (less job reentry prep) $3,000


SUBTOTAL = $3,000
ioby Platform Fee  $35
3rd Party Payment Processing Fee (3%) $90



Thank you!

Thanks to all who contributed to our CSLN/IOBY fundraising effort. We raised a total of $994. These funds will be used to purchase plant  material, soil amendments and signage for demonstration gardens in Back  of the Yards and Woodlawn. Volunteers have started constructing  demonstration beds at The Plant. We've ordered native plants from  Prairie Nursery. Volunteers in Woodlawn have constructed two DIY grow  light stands and have started lots of flowerbed plants from seed, both  indoors and outdoors. Work has begun! Thanks again! Visit for more information about our projects this summer, and use our contact page to volunteer and get involved.

Contact page link:

Campaign - Status Update - March 11

Thanks to all who have donated to our campaign.  Many thanks!  Our campaign has raised $714 so far.  This will be used to get started with plant material and soil amendments for our planned demonstration gardens -- both in Back of the Yards and in Woodlawn.

We want to keep our campaign goals realistic, so we revised our fundraising campaign goal amount to $3,000.  We are optimistic that this goal amount is achievable.  To align our budget with the goal amount, we removed the line item for us to pay job re-entry program participants ourselves.  Instead, we'll still be embedding job re-entry programming in our projects this summer.  But instead of our groups paying participants a stipend or wage, we plan to partner with existing job re-entry programs that can provide the funding for paying the participants.  

Landscape Redesign Project at The Plant

Join Steve Ulman, Jon Scheffel and Bill Morrisett -- Volunteer!

REGISTER.  Informational meeting on Saturday, Feb. 28, 10:00 - 11:30am, The Plant - Lobby Space. 1400 W. 46th Street.

Stephen Ulman, Treeocracy, will lead a discussion on plans to create a demonstration landscape that includes edibles and pollinator habitat plants.  Bill and Steve are creating this demonstration garden in the yard of The Plant as an example of an alternative to a traditional front lawn. 


This site location is part of the Chicago Demonstration Gardens project.


Help them design and create this space! This project includes community outreach -- garden signage, how-to information on the web.They need your community organizing skills!  This project is part of a larger Chicago Demonstration Gardens project.  


Register online for their Informational Volunteer Meeting. 





This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • ioby/CSLN event
  • seva g
  • Al Walker
  • LARRY J.
  • Majani
  • Jim Even
  • Institute of Cultural Affairs
  • Denise S.
  • Terry Bergdall
  • Alia
  • Pat & Davy McDonald
  • Jennifer Reinhardt
  • Stephen U.
  • Jen M
  • Suzy M
  • Ralph M
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Bill M
  • Jennifer Hirsch