The Growing Gardeners Program

Overview of the Growing Gardeners Program

Thanks to a grant from the Albrecht Poss Family Foundation, the Collaboration for Early Childhood has launched the Growing Gardeners Program! We are always seeking new and innovative ways to expand programming to create the best possible experiences for our children. The Growing Gardeners Program is just one example of this.

Ten local early childhood program applicants will be awarded supplies and materials that will expand STEM concepts for their early learners and can be used to enhance learning year after year, and season after season. A coach from the Oak Park Conservatory has partnered with the Collaboration for Early Childhood to support each site with their raised garden bed. The Collaboration has also designed a garden curriculum to supplement the hands-on learning.

Growing Gardeners Program participants will receive: 

  • a professionally installed raised garden bed
  • a composting system
  • gardening tools
  • plants and seeds (annuals and vegetables)
  • the garden curriculum 

Growing Gardener Participants will:

  • plant and tend the raised bed garden using elements of the included “Growing Into Knowing” curriculum
  • attend 2-3 Growing Gardeners events including the kickoff and culminating events
  • obtain photo releases from families and document the gardening process (with stories, photos, blogs/social media posts and other methods) for a minimum of one year (and longer if you want!)
  • complete an evaluation of the project in June 2022.

If you are an early childhood program in Oak Park, River Forest, or the surrounding area, we welcome your application.

The application deadline for the spring 2021 program was Monday, April 5.   


There have been many people who have played vital roles in bringing these eleven gardens and related curriculum to life.

  • Becki Streit, Chair of the Collaboration for Early Childhood’s Board of Directors, for her fearless leadership and worm wrangling
  • Rob Streit for his equally fearless Subpod assembly assistance
  • Jennifer Rathburn, for grant writing support
  • Dan Gibbs of The Backyard Farmer for the raised beds
  • Dave Murphy of Deep Roots for the soil and magic worm castings
  • Heather Duncan and Wendy Negron for the lessons
  • Melissa Velez for her editing services
  • Amy Huntington for her delightful illustrations that capture the joy and discovery of the new gardens
  • Sandy Lang for her playful lesson design and accompanying worksheets

And thank you to Beth Albrecht, who connected the Collaboration for Early Childhood to Marilyn and Arlin Albrecht of the Albrecht Poss Foundation. It is thanks to their Growing Gardeners Grant that all of this is possible.

The Growing Gardeners Program is made possible by a grant from the Albrecht Poss Family Foundation.