Waters Garden

Waters Garden is an organic school and community garden, located at Sunnyside and Campbell in Chicago.

After almost 100 years, the school campus was freed from the asphalt by the work and initiative of students and community!  The school garden contains 3+acres of nature classrooms, fruit trees, grape vines, berry bushes, a fire circle, classroom gardens including potato patches, squash vines, tomato and lettuce beds, and cold frames to extend the growing season, outdoor play spaces, and, of course, classroom gardens where student experience the joy of planting, watching growth, watering, weeding, and harvesting!  Generations of Waters Students love the garden and feel welcome there, returning and bringing their own children to explore the fantastic beauty.

Native gardens with seed stock from the ancient remnant Chicago ecosystem grow deep roots underneath 4 old burr oaks, each over 300 years watching the seasons pass and land change.  Those trees were there when the river was drained away from our school campus and when our school was built.

The garden is anchored by 4 ancient oaks, each over 350 years old!

The garden community is the volunteer crew that maintains and waters the entire garden throughout the growing season. Without them, none of this would be possible.

The ecology program is led by Pete Leki, who teaches ecology K-8 remotely this season. For 20+ years Pete’s been taking Waters School students to the garden, riverpath, Sauganash forest preserve (LaBaugh), and the Lake at Montrose for field ecology. Pete’s Jules Peterson-Green is the volunteer garden volunteer coordinator (the volunteer who coordinates volunteers), who coordinates the Waters waterers and coins terms like the tomato cage cage and garden guardians. yes.  and who is free from an editor to reign her in. She also films, edits, and coordinates volunteers and community music and footage contributions to the Waters Ecology Film project. 

Want to get involved?

The best way is to come to garden night.

Garden Night is Wednesdays 5-sunset most weeks. Join our email list to get updates and to find out if we reschedule garden night or have any special weekend garden workdays. Some weeks we do reschedule depending on weather or conflicts. Garden night is when we have a task list such as watering, weeding, planting, mulching, or gathering seeds or harvest. We are observing standard Covid protocols for safety.

Read more about how the garden was created and it’s history here.

Read about how the garden and ancient oaks were slated for destruction by CPS in Fall 2018 and how our community protected the garden.