Summer Gardening Classes

Hello LETS GO followers!

My name is Molly Hulseman, and this is my first year with the Summer Of Solutions team. I am working with the Children’s Garden at the Koinonia house on Ashland. My schedule is different than most summer participants in that I come to SoS just on Mondays.

We are almost 1 month into our program. It began slowly. No children showed up the first day of children’s garden, but the week after we had as many as 15 kids at the garden.

Children’s garden has been going along very smoothly! The goal of the children’s garden is to teach the kids about the importance of plants, organic foods, and growing crops in a city. Each week we decide on a theme, and teach basic lessons on the themes that we have chosen. In our first week we talked to the kids about the water cycle as well as how water allows plants to grow. The next week we talked about the sun’s influence on plant growth.

The kids picked herbs and other foods growing in the Children's Garden to add to their pizzas.

The kids picked herbs and other foods growing in the Children’s Garden to add to their pizzas.

This week (the third week) we taught the kids about the solar system. We taught them ways to remember the solar system. For example MVEMJSUN (My Very Enormous Mammoth Just Sat Under Nana) was how we remember the order of the planets. We also explained to them the reason humans and plants can grow on earth is because of its place in the solar system. In their first activity we had them paint their own planets. Then we cooked pizzas from flour tortillas, pizza sauce, cheese, and whatever they wanted to pick from the garden. Lettuce, chives, onions, and even raspberries were added to some of the pizzas! We ended the day by letting the kids water all the plants in the garden. It was a refreshing way to end the hot day!

The children are learning about the planets in the solar system.  Here they are drawing what they imagine the solar system looks like.

The children are learning about the planets in the solar system. Here the kids are drawing what they imagine the solar system looks like.

My favorite moment in yesterday’s solar system lesson was when the kids had a chance to draw on the solar system map. With the solar system at the center of the table in the garden, all of the kids had a chance to drawn on the solar system. I asked them to draw extra stars, spaceships, and even aliens on Mars. They all jumped in excitement when I asked them to draw aliens on Mars, almost shoving each other out of the way! We had to tell them to do it one at a time! It is always a rewarding experience when you can get kids excited about an activity.

This experience so far has been very rewarding for me. I came into this program knowing very little about gardening or growing plants. I have learned the true value to growing organic fruits and vegetables. I also have learned that so far I have so much more to learn. Teaching is a great passion of mine. I love when I can teach with students who want to learn. These kids just love to learn! This program has opened my mind to many possibilities to making a brighter, greener future for myself. I am so thankful to be a part of this group of people. I truly believe we are helping improve this city, one seed at a time.

Making models of planets

We are making models of planets.

Join us for the 2014 Chicago Summer of Solutions!

Fullscreen capture 3192014 40556 PM.jpg

Hello Everybody! My name is Kendra Keyes and I’ve been working with Summer of Solutions since the summer of 2013.  I was a volunteer and could come and go to the program with flexible hours fit to meet my needs.  It was the perfect summer learning opportunity! I worked on the Yard Sharing team, and got to build these relationships with my team members as well as with a big beautiful garden and all its inhabitants. We got to know the community through our CSA garden and field trips to the farmers market or local bike shop or even the beach. Before I knew it, I felt I was with these people and in this community more than I was with my own. Everything we talked about was interesting and every project we did was enlightening and extremely relevant.

We are looking for people who are interested in things like energy efficiency, community-based energy, green industry, and local food production, to join our team this summer and have a similar experience!

The deadline to apply is April 11th. Apply now at

I have been working with the team throughout the winter while I have been away at college. This summer I plan to be a program leader and work with the yard sharing network. I can not wait to see what 2014 has in store for Let’s Go Chicago!  
Fullscreen capture 3192014 41056 PM.jpg

Yard Sharing Network is getting ready! LETS G(r)O(w) some food!

Hey everyone!

As the summer gets closer, stay up to date with the Yard Sharing Network team at their Facebook page — newly launched! There will be many cool pictures and stories, as well as good urban agriculture tips and more!

The Yard Sharing Network is also accepting applications for landowners and growers — you can use this form to apply to grow, or contact for more information!

A scene from one of our Thursday morning harvests during the Summer of Solutions program.

A scene from one of our Thursday morning harvests during the Summer of Solutions program.

Program Leader KENDRA and her garlic!
Program Leader KENDRA and her garlic!


Updates from the fall internship program

Marlon English (blog author, left) and Peter Hoy work together to protect plants from the frost in early November

Marlon (blog author, left) and Peter working to protect plants from the frost in early November

This fall has been coming along well so far for Let’s Go Chicago. During my 1st week back at LETS GO, I helped teach classes in the children’s garden, worked on the cooperative business development project, and got ready to attend Power Shift 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA.

In children’s garden, we assisted the children to pickle radishes and cucumbers.It was exciting to see how enthusiastic the children were to pickle vegetables. I was really surprised to see how many of the children wanted to pickle radishes.

In the following week, we attended Power Shift 2013, an environmental justice conference in Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania from Saturday to Monday. At Power Shift solutionaries collaborated to address climate change,fracking,capitalism, and the oppression of people of color and Indigenous people. On the last day of Power Shift, there was a large action held to show resistance to the banks that invest in fracking for natural resources and to hold local politicians accountable for allowing capitalist to pollute the environment. I heard many stories from environmentalist and Indigenous people that live in communities that face the crisis of water and air pollution.

(From left to right) Molly Costello, Kara Hoy, and Nell Seggerson of LETS GO participate in the Power Shift march for a Green Economy

Molly Costello, Kara Hoy, and Nell Seggerson (from left to right) of LETS GO participate in the Power Shift march for a Green Economy

Once we returned to Chicago, two other members of the collective(Peter&Molly) and I did the garden maintenance on Steve’s yard, our backyard CSA garden. Due to the low temperatures approaching, we harvested some tomatoes, kale, chili peppers, and constructed a small greenhouse structure to save the remaining crops from frost. It was sort of a relief to know that we can preserve the plants without the risk of pulling them out premature.

Kale salad made from fall garden harvest

Over the past month, Peter, Ethan, and I collaborated on our objectives and the timeline for our cooperative business development project. This project is important to me because we can provide a service for a community that faces flooding issues in the community that we work,live,and socialize in. We are working on our timeline because we have to arrange our priorities to accomplish our goal of becoming an established coop by the up and coming growing season. If you haven’t seen it already, check out our new video and fundraising campaign for the cooperative project by clicking the image below:

Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 2.28.18 PM

Stay tuned for more updates as we move into the winter season and continue our planning for what we hope to be an exciting 2014!

-Marlon English



Find below a pumped up introduction to the cooperative fundraiser from future worker-owner, Danton Valenzuela — a former Summer of Solutions participant who is, like all of us at LETS GO Chicago, doing the work to build the Green Economy!:


Hi! If you’re reading this you’ve come across my blog post and are probably a good stable person with lots of friends who are doing great things. I applaud you for being born… Now onto the topic of this particular post, LETS GO Chicago! Is currently on day 4 of our campaign to raise money to feed the children, oh wait I mean to start our Co-Op sister/brother group Grassroots ecology which has just been launched by the good people who brought you the Summer of Solutions.  As you may know, a business is not easy to start, especially a worker-owned green co-operative in the middle of Chicago winter.  So what were basically asking for is the startup loot so that we can buy the tools and pay for the man-hours of planning that we need to get us up and going and make ourselves self-sufficient to the point where you’re coming to us for discounts on rain gardens, snow plowing troops, and other green programs that people pay for and receive a service that they know is good for the environment and goes to people that live in your community who have only your best interest at heart.  What more could you ask for this Christmas? Helping the green economy, promoting sustainability and knowing that you contributed to local people who are working to make your community better! Did I mention that we will be donating some of our profits to the Summer of Solutions program?! Well we are, this means that we will have the resources to train young people to do the work that we do, it’s like a summer camp for green super heroes.  Golly gee all it takes are a couple minutes of your time and a tad bit of money and you can know in your heart that you’re not just sitting back letting big business and global warming win.  Times are difficult and we understand if you truly can’t, but if you can (I’m looking at you string bean) than please help a brother out and donate to LETS GO Chicago’s Grassroots Ecology Co-operative.

The Good Life, A Life Worth Living

Our friend Cesar Alvarez took some portraits of our garden and home.
I ask, what, if not this, is the life we should be living?

More from Cesar here:

A Place Worth Living InHeck YeahPumpy BeebsA homeHoop Houses SomedayDreamsGreens!LoveSunflower SaluteSunflower SaluteHoopysReachThe Flags of our MovementYesTomorrow, Today

Announcing Fall Kids Garden Classes

We at LETSGO Chicago are excited to announce the plans for Garden Classes this fall. Classes start September 30th and run for six weeks until November 6th. They will be every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 4:15-5:45pm. Attendees will choose one day to attend each week. Classes will focus on teaching lessons on garden care, nutrition, arts and crafts, and sustainability for 5-12 year olds.Image

If you have a child you would like to register you can pick up a paper copy of the form at the United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Ave. Online versions of both the Spanish and English registration can be requested through our team email Please also feel free to bring any concerns or questions to that email address.

Really like gardens? Really like kids? If you are interested in volunteering in the garden program please email garden teacher Nell at  to learn about garden teacher training dates and other opportunities to be involved in fall classes.

What A Yard Can Be

The act of owning property is profound in that you become responsible for stewarding this one piece of our big old Earth. It is bizarre in that you can hide it, you can build a fence around it and tell people to stay away.

You can let just grass grow, which is not only boring, but “the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from lawn-related maintenance is four times the amount of carbon naturally collected and stored by the lawn itself.”

As our Summer of Solutions program has ended, as we look to Fall and to the next year, those of us at LETS GO Chicago are taking a moment to reflect before we dream up our future. As I harvested tomatoes (my favorite!) in our CSA garden today, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was in an exceptional space–that what was around me was not only beautiful, but full of life, engaging–a shared space that many people love together.

Many people loving something together–that is not a phrase I would use to describe a well-manicured lawn!

And reflecting further, I thought back to the things I have learned in that garden, how to harvest this or that, the way to handle certain kinds of blight, the value of composting, lasagna gardening to reclaim grass-covered lawn and perhaps most importantly the people I’ve met there, the laughs we have shared–the incredible, incredible totality of what that space is. I glanced up at our giant sunflower and thought, “Dang, this is the right way to use property!”



I guess this whole thing is just a giant love letter to Steve, our neighbor and friend who took a risk a few years ago and let some kooky environmentalists take a small part of his backyard and start growing in it. It’s a love letter to the CSA members who took a chance on us and have eaten officially now hundreds of produce, it’s a love letter to the members of LETS GO Chicago and every volunteer who has given their time and hands to the soil, it’s a love letter to everyone who donated money or a plant, it’s a love letter to my dear garden, a place I have come to love so much.

It’s not only a love letter, but it’s a recognition of what we’ve done. It’s recognizing that hundreds of pounds of food were not shipped to our neighborhood using fossil fuels this summer. It’s recognizing that I learned how to garden this summer. It’s recognizing that some of us are a little more food independent now. It’s recognizing that not only can neighbors trust each other, they can build together. Dang!

There’s a lot of ways to attack lawns, to portray them as atmosphere-killing time wasters that have no purpose and exclude people from spaces, but what if instead we asked what a lawn could be, like Steve did? What if instead we dreamed about what a space like that can be? What if we started growing food together all over, and we put art in between, and read poetry there, and taught children there, and took naps there, and and and etc. etc. etc.

What can a yard be? I’m not sure there’s any limits.