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!