In 2011 and 2012 the Chicago Botanic Garden expanded visitors’ knowledge about sustainable agriculture techniques and encouraged them to use this information at home. Visitors were educated through broad-based initiatives, including signage, modeling on Fruit & Vegetable Garden, horticulture/public programming interns, farmers’ market demonstrations, family drop-in programs, and the website/social media. Targeted efforts included classes and mini-courses, a farm field trip, farm dinners, and open farm days. Evaluation showed that these activities were successful in engaging visitors and conveying information on sustainable and organic growing techniques.
The short term goals of this project were for Chicago Botanic Garden visitors to:
• Increase their curiosity about sustainable growing practices and express an interest in these methods,
• Increase their awareness of the many aspects of sustainable farming and gardening and why growing sustainably matters,
• Increase their knowledge and basic understanding of sustainable methods, and
• Gain an appreciation of sustainably-farmed products.
Intermediate goals were for visitors to:
• Apply the knowledge they gained at a home or community garden,
• Purchase sustainably-farmed products, and
• Seek out additional opportunities to learn about sustainable gardening.
Expected long term outcomes were to:
• Increase the number of individuals using sustainable gardening practices in the tri-state Chicago area,
• Increase number of individuals contributing to a sustainable food system,
• Increase purchases of products related to sustainable farming and gardening, and
• Increase consumer consumption of sustainably-produced goods, and
• Broaden the Garden’s reputation as a resource for information about sustainable gardening.