Openlands Celebrates New School Garden at McPherson Elementary

October 27, 2014

On October 17, Openlands celebrated its continued effort to green Chicago Public Schools through its Building School Gardens program with the opening of the new school garden and playground at McPherson Elementary School, located in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

The Building School Gardens program began in 2007 with a mission of transforming Chicago’s bleak paved schoolyards into living classrooms that provide open green space for all. Since the program’s launch, Openlands’ has installed almost 60 gardens on Chicago Public School campuses across the city, including three this fall.

“Outdoor learning spaces such as these provide the perfect setting for students to discover wonder and connection with the natural world,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “Children represent the future of environmental leadership and responsibility—allowing students the opportunity to engage with nature is essential to the continued growth of our communities, city, and region. We are grateful to our partners, both public and private, for their ongoing support with this effort.”

BMO Harris Bank is the Principal Sponsor of the program. “Supporting Openlands and its Building School Gardens program is a natural fit for BMO Harris Bank,” said Wendy Raymer, Director, U.S. Community Affairs, BMO Financial Group. “It combines environment and education in a unique and effective way. We are absolutely thrilled with the initiative and believe it provides sustainable enrichment to CPS students and teachers alike.”

McPherson Elementary School’s garden is part of a master plan created by Principal Carmen Mendoza, Alderman Ameya Pawar, Friends of McPherson, and Openlands. The garden includes beds with native plants, an outdoor classroom and stage, pathways, and a memorial garden. The master plan includes new playground areas, raised beds for growing fruits and vegetables, and plantings that surround the school.

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