What We Do




Since 1999 hundreds of trained participants have completed BUGs, Homegrown or the GardenKeeper series, supporting the efforts of Chicago neighborhoods to maintain healthy gardens that provide open spaces and platforms for community enrichment.

GardenKeepers learn how to help start and maintain community allotment gardens. GardenKeepers volunteer in a variety of situations from community garden care and community organizing to sustainable urban farming and management. GardenKeepers are passionate ambassadors who help educate their neighbors as well as their public officials about the importance of gardens for the urban landscape.

A community garden allows residents to consider many aspects of local food access while also increasing neighborhood cohesiveness through group-centric activities required for the long-term sustainability of the garden. 

The GardenKeepers program consists of a series of workshops that are offered throughout the calendar year with class and field components. Lessons are taught by local experts focused on maintaining urban gardens and farms in an environmentally sustainable manner.  Some of the topics covered include community garden organizing, soil, compost, insects, weed identification, plant selection, raised bed building, native plants, wild life habitats, transplanting, mulching, and invasive species.

GardenKeeper graduates are eligible for mini-grants to fund community garden projects.

For eligibility requirements and scholarship requests, please contact gardens@openlands.org.

The GardenKeepers program stems from a series orignially created in 1999 for an organic gardening series called "Building Urban Gardens" (BUGS), concieved and designed by a partnership between Openlands and the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.

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