September 2018

Greetings from the Deep Roots Project!

My name is Camille Fink, and I’m a new Deep Roots Project volunteer. I'm really glad to be connecting with you, and I'm here to let you know about all the exciting things we have going on.

I've gardened off and on over the years. And when I got two plots in a community garden earlier this year, it had been quite a while. It’s been a season of highs and lows. The highs — a bounty of squash and the beautiful Mexican sunflowers that popped up recently. And the lows — cucumber seedlings that bit the dust in the wildly fluctuating spring weather and a mystery bug that kept decimating my tomatoes. I’d forgotten how gardening can be a real emotional rollercoaster. Or perhaps I just get too attached to my seedlings.

In any case, I'm glad that I’ve gotten involved with the Deep Roots Project. It’s a great group of like-minded folks — people who don't just love gardening but are also thinking about how that relates to social, environmental, health, and sustainability issues. I also really appreciate their constant enthusiasm to get the word out and get people involved. And this month is no exception. Read on to learn more about our upcoming workshop and how to have a great fall gardening season!

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

I moved to Chicago from Los Angeles several years ago, and people always ask me (mostly jokingly, usually in the dead of winter) why in the world I would do that. The truth is that I’m the only Southern Californian I know who dislikes perpetual sunshine and who finds the weather there boring. I love the different seasons here and the way the pace of life changes throughout the year. I also really like scarves and hats, so bundling up for cold weather makes me happy.

Fall is hands down my favorite season, and we’re just a week away from its official start! For me, fall has become largely about winding down and prepping for the impending winter hibernation. I had planned on shuttering my gardening operation for the year, but the next Deep Roots Project workshop is making me realize that I have it all wrong and that fall is actually a great time to keep the garden up and running. I’ll admit, though, that I’m not really sure where to start. If you’re confused like I am about how to go about planning a fall garden, then this workshop is for you!

On September 23, Dan Gibbs will be leading a Season Extension Workshop where he’ll tell us all about how to successfully grow well into the fall. He’ll discuss growing cold-hardy crops as well as using cold frames, hoop houses, and row covers. Dan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with us. He was a commercial organic farmer in Wisconsin and now helps people transform their backyards into what he calls “mini-farms” through his company, The Backyard Farmer.

This is a special opportunity to get lots of great information from someone who knows all there is to know about fall gardening. We hope you’ll join us!



If you’re curious about what fall gardening entails or you can't make it to the September 23

workshop, we've put together a list of tips for selecting fall vegetables, preparing soil, and watering, along with links to fall vegetable growing guides.

Get Your Fall Plants and Support a Great Local Organization

I recently went to visit Ana Solares at Empowering Gardens, a small nursery in Forest Park that supports a wonderful goal. Their mission statement says it all: Everyone should have the opportunity for a fulfilling and meaningful work experience. As such, we strive to provide people with varying skills and abilities the assistance they need to have an equal opportunity and the support to be more involved in their community and society. So, not only does the Empowering Gardens nursery have a fantastic selection of plants, it also gives people with a range of disabilities invaluable work experience and job skills. It’s a win-win all around.

Ana was kind enough to show me around the nursery, and I asked about the fall seedlings they have available. Well, it’s a long list: mustard greens, collard greens, swiss chard, kale, red romaine lettuce, cabbage, radishes, beets, cilantro, spinach, borage, and sunflowers. The seedlings are organically grown from heirloom seeds, and they all looked happy, healthy, and ready to go into the ground. I couldn't resist bringing home a cilantro plant for all the salsa I plan to make from my tomato harvest.

The Empowering Gardens nursery is open now until the beginning of November. (During the winter, they move to an indoor space where they sell houseplants and holiday items and go back to the outdoor space in the spring.) They’re located at 7730 W. Madison Street, and we hope you’ll check them out. Ana and her wonderful staff will be happy to get you set up with all the plants, garden supplies, and gardening tips you’ll need to have an amazing fall garden!


The Deep Roots Project store supports all the other education, outreach, and community work we do. There are beautiful handmade cedar beds available, along with everything you need to start and maintain a thriving garden. Please check out what we have to offer!

Our next monthly meeting is on September 28, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm at the Good Earth Greenhouse in River Forest. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the other Deep Roots Project volunteers, learn about all that's happening, and perhaps pick up something delicious from Estelle Carol's garden. We hope you'll join us!


August 2018

We are working hard to serve our Deep Roots Community. Please enjoy the following stories and know you can support us through our garden supply store for your late season gardening needs like mulch and composted manure. Also, we welcome you to attend one of our upcoming workshops or our monthly meeting at Good Earth Greenhouse on the 4th Friday of each month.

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Monsanto found GUILTY on all counts!

In a historic victory on August 10, Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in the first Roundup cancer lawsuit. It’s time to take the Deep Roots toxic-free lawn pledge!

“[Monsanto] is a company that has always put profits ahead of public safety,.. and today, Monsanto has finally been held accountable.” The science and politics behind the Roundup controversy is fascinating – including Monsanto/EPA collusion and distortion of scientific research. Read our four favorite news articles about this game-changing court case on our “Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family” pledge page.

Gardening and lawn care chemicals can be harmful to humans, pets, wildlife and waterways. The good news is there are many surprisingly easy ways to care for your lawn and garden that avoid putting your family and neighbors at risk, like watering correctly, mowing high, applying compost tea, reseeding often and using natural non-toxic fertilizers. See our Natural Lawn Care page for more information.

Read more and take the pledge

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Communities come together to support Deep Roots Project at Trailside Ribbon-Cutting Event

When the Deep Roots Project cut the ribbon on their first Inspiration Edible Garden Bed awarded to the Trailside Museum of Natural History on Sunday, July 29, the program was more than just about growing food, it was about connecting communities and working together to make a culture shift. With lovely weather and a reason to celebrate, over 50 people gathered in the beautiful Nature and Play area at Trailside Museum to hear about local environmental initiatives, eat delicious fruits and vegetables, sing and celebrate the sustainable idea of growing food in your front yard instead of grass! The Wednesday Journal article entitled Greening the Community, One Edible Garden at a Time: Deep Roots Project aims to change the way people eat published two days before the event.

Read More

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Fall Edible Gardening Tips

Did you know that fall is the best time to set up an edible garden and fertilize for spring?

  • A thick cover of dense leaf mulch keeps veggies moist in the dry hot days of August.

  • Fall is the best time to install new edible raised beds for a spring garden. Contact David for advice on cost, bed size, soil, mulch, delivery and best location in your yard.

  • The height of summer is not the best time to start tender seedlings of anything. Hot days, sparse rain, and heavy pest pressure must be factored into growing from seed.

  • It’s easier to grow seeds indoors under grow lights in late July or August in a self-watering seed-starting tray with a capillary matte.

  • Buying seedlings for August planting is much easier and more reliable than growing from seed. Deep Roots has ordered fall seedlings of lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, collards, kale and more.

  • Garden fabric (called “row cover”) can protect fall plants from light frosts by raising the temperature about 10 degrees.

  • Fall is the best time to super-charge existing and newly installed edible beds with a powerful and inexpensive organic fertilizer called composted manure.

  • If you don’t already have biochar blended into your existing edible bed soil fall is the best time to add it. Deep Roots store soil blend always includes biochar.

  • To keep out weed seeds cover your dormant veggie beds with black landscape fabric.

  • Deep Roots will provide delivery of bulky garden products like raised beds and soil.

  • Get free consultation when you buy a raised bed, soil, mulch, fertilizer, seedlings or other products and services from Deep Roots. Contact our director David Murphy at (773) 502-5600 and

Read More


Free watering and irrigation workshop

From 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, in Estelle's garden, at 323 S. East Ave, in Oak Park.

Learn about various ways to water your garden, including when to water, how to water, rain barrels, drip irrigation, automatic irrigation, the importance of dense mulch and more.

Read More and register


Why buy from Deep Roots?

Buy local and fund our mission. We offer superior quality, great value, easy setup, attractive design, delivery and installation.

Purchases made from the Deep Roots online store help to fund our mission to encourage and empower residents through free workshops and outreach activities to convert toxic lawns into bountiful, organic, edible and native gardens. We are part of a growing national movement to remove toxic chemicals from our homes, yards, water and food.

Read More


Win an Inspiration Edible Garden worth $1000!

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn Calling all Oak Park-River Forest Residents and Businesses

Our purpose is to inspire the community to grow healthy food, remove toxins from their yards and donate a portion of their harvest to the hungry. Share the benefits of creating healthy and beautiful green spaces free of toxic chemicals with a vibrant growing community.

Read more and download application form


Come to a DRP Monthly Meeting. Next meeting is Friday, Aug. 24

Our Deep Roots Monthly Meetings are a way to share skills, make friends, solve problems and find out about volunteer opportunities.

It’s also a time to find out about discussion groups like garden design and health and wellness. We want to hear your ideas about how to make Deep Roots work better for everyone. Join us on the fourth Friday of each month for our Deep Roots Monthly Meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Good Earth Greenhouse, 7900 Madison St., in River Forest. If you have questions, contact Briana our volunteer organizer at (708) 878-3639 and

Support our Deep Roots community, find your passion to make a difference and connect with others!


Season Extension Workshop 

Many of us look forward to the growing season all winter long.  We page through seed catalogs, buy our seeds, plan our garden; we dream about new varieties to experiment with to make the upcoming season the best ever. But the window of opportunity between last frost and first frost feels shorter and shorter every year.  Have you ever wished for a productive garden that you can start in April and produce through Thanksgiving?

Please join us from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, when OPRF native Dan Gibbs will discuss some tricks and tips to extend your growing season well outside the Mothers' Day to Labor Day window.  Bring your questions and an open mind, and get ready to stretch your growing season to it's full potential!



Dan Gibbs is a River Forest native who spent many years as a commercial produce farmer in Southeast Wisconsin, growing using organic methods.  Dan is active in the urban agriculture community, and is an obsessive gardener now living in the Galewood neighborhood.  Dan also owns The Backyard Farmer, a food garden creation business with a mission to make local food gardening accessible and easy for families through education, inspiration and ongoing support.

Funny Joke

Q: Where did the vegetable go to have a few drinks?  A: The Salad Bar.