Win an Inspiration Edible Garden 2018

Application Instructions

  • Open the PDF in Acrobat Reader. 
  • Type right into the PDF form. 
  • If you have questions or technical issues contact David. 
  • When done save the file.
  • Enter your own and your supporters’ Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family pledges here.
  • Mail completed PDF file to David Murphy at dmurphy[at]
  • Call David at (773) 502-5600 to say the form has been emailed.

Win a complete raised bed edible garden for your front yard

The Deep Roots Project is a movement to convert conventional lawns into bountiful edible and native plant gardens and toxin-free lawns/landscapes in the Oak Park/River Forest area and beyond. Share the benefits of creating healthy and beautiful green spaces free of toxic chemicals with a vibrant growing community. See below for the huge environmental and health costs of conventional chemical lawn care.

“If I told you that one activity could make you healthier, improve the quality of your food, conserve fossil fuels, strengthen your community, increase biodiversity, help children understand that food does grow on trees, and restore your sense of connection with the natural world, would you be interested? I have two words: EDIBLE LANDSCAPING.”  ~ Rosemary Creasy

Funding for 10 free gardens in Oak Park and River Forest was received from Entrepreneur Leaders in Philanthropy Fund, a giving group of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. Deep Roots Project will build at no cost to the property owner 10 showcase front yard edible/native gardens in prominent locations as an inspiration to many more residents and organizations to grow food and take toxics out of their yards. Each garden includes a fully installed raised bed for edibles, a native plant bed and the support to be successful.

The garden installation and 2 years maintenance is worth more than $1,000. The annual harvest from 4 x 8 sqft can save several hundred dollars in grocery bills.

This program will offer a unique opportunity for families and groups to build new deeper connections as a result of working, learning and sharing. Deep Roots Project will provide the critical resources and training needed to grow a beautiful and successful edible/native garden.

We will support our gardeners with fresh compost, compost tea, vegetable seedlings, seeds and a garden mentor for two years. Participating families and groups will learn how to sow, water, maintain and harvest their garden. Garden winners will be required to donate 25% of their harvests to the local food pantry or the food insecure. The Deep Roots community, free workshops and our website will be available for property owners to continue learning ways to improve and expand their garden into the future.

In addition to the installation of a 4’ x 8’ x 16” cedar raised garden bed with soil, compost, mulch and plants, a gardening coach will be provided to help recipients enjoy their gardens to the fullest.  We can customize the 4 x 8 sqft into beds that fit your yard size and sun availability. A few native plants will also be added to your yard in order to support pollinators and biodiversity.

Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family pledge

Traditional lawn care is toxic and wasteful with huge environmental costs. These practices negatively affect the quality of life in our communities by degrading local waterways, polluting the air, contaminating our soils, harming pets and wildlife, contributing to climate change, and threatening human health. See details here.

All applicants must sign the “Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family” pledge to eliminate toxic chemicals on their lawn and garden. Take the online pledge here.

How to qualify for a free inspiration garden

  • Applicant’s property must be in either Oak Park or River Forest
  • For our program to be successful the showcase gardens have to make an impact on the community at large. The raised bed and native plants have to be highly visible from street. For a main street with limited space we can customize the size of the raised bed.
  • Edible plants need the right amount of sun to grow to their full potential. Full sun (8 hours a day) is best. Since vegetables require from 4 to 8 hours per day the garden will also work if about half the bed is 7-8 hours of sun and the other half is 4-6 hours. See how to measure hours of sunlight here.
  • The applicant must be committed to learning the basics of edible garden success. We will have free workshops, a gardening coach and other learning resources.
  • The applicant must display the “Deep Roots Project Showcase Garden” sign near the bed.
  • The applicant must be available for media attention like interviews, photos and demonstrating the success of their garden.
  • Applicant promises to totally enjoy gardening, eating the healthy food form their garden, getting as much exercise as possible and have\ing tons of gardening fun.

Increase your chance of winning a free garden

  • Learn about the dangers of chemical lawn/garden care and pesticides. See more information about natural and organic lawn/garden care here.
  • Use this knowledge to ask many people to take the Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family pledge in support of your garden application.  Add the names and contact info for you supporters to your application form. If you can’t complete this step on your own please contact and we will have a volunteer help you.
  • Display a “Keep On the Grass” yard sign to inspire other residents to take the pledge. We will drop off a free sign after you and your supporters take the pledge online. But we appreciate a donation of $10 to cover the cost of the sign.
  • Grow your network of family, friends and neighbors help with your garden. The Deep Roots team will provide the knowledge, planning, some labor and 2 years of coaching and supplies.
  • Commit to replanting and maintaining your garden after Deep Roots ends its support after 2 years. Hopefully, your garden supporters and partners will stay involved for many years.
  • Find a reliable person to water your garden once a week while you are out of town.
  • OPTIONAL: Install an automatic irrigation system and/or a rain barrel to water your raised bed. Deep Roots can give you advice if you want to do the work yourself. Instructions will be on our website. Or, we can install it for you if you pay us for labor and materials.

Application process and deadlines

We have a three-part application process: (1) general information about the property and property owner, (2) a more detailed questionnaire, (3) a face-to-face interview. We will contact you to fill out the Step 2 form.

Download the PDF application from the download button on this page for step 1. Open the PDF in Acrobat Reader and type your information directly into the PDF so we can quickly and accurately copy your answers into our database. This is a special interactive PDF form. If you can’t handle this step, contact us and we will have a Deep Roots volunteer help help you.  

Email the completed PDF application form to David Murphy, Director of Deep Roots Project at dmurphy[at]

We will accept applications from May 15 through August 15, 2018. We will pick winners on the 15th of May, June, July and August. As you collect more “Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family” pledges you can submit your application again until August 15. A raised bed installed in July or August can still grow a fall crop and also be ready to go in early spring.

Our fundraising will continue. As our program gains momentum we will actively seek more funding so all qualified applicants can have a free Inspiration Garden. We would appreciate your help with fundraising. We will continue to install gardens through September and resume selecting winners and installing gardens in the early spring 2019 if more funds become available.