By Tina Jenkins Bell
BAPA School Liaison
Kellogg Elementary School recently won its third Chicago Excellence in Gardening Award (CEGA). Kellogg, the only school to win this award three times, according to Kellogg parent and Garden Club volunteer Emily Lambert Colitto, won in the school gardens-specialized category.
“We are very proud of our three Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards, and we’re also very grateful to be part of an amazing, supportive gardening community in Beverly. The Edna White Garden, the Beverly Farmacy, and home gardener Meredith Horn were among the other winners,” said Lambert Colitto.
The awards ceremony took place on September 24 at the Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery, located at 9030 S. Hermitage. Kellogg students Kyle Garcia, 8th grade and Orla O’Doherty, 6th grade, accepted the award for the school.
“It was nice,” commented Garcia about receiving and accepting the award. “I like knowing we put our hands in the soil and helped make it what it is.”
Spread across Kellogg’s campus, which covers a full city block, are these special green spaces, including peace, learning, Japanese, pollinator, butterfly, vegetable, learning and memorial gardens. The outside conservatory also has a number of trees and a popular beehive, from which honey has been retrieved to sell at area events, like BAPA’s Garden Walk. Lambert Colitto also pointed out sections of milkweed, pollinator boosters, and new trees that the school received from BAPA.
Kellogg’s garden is practical and hands-on. Students have sold vegetables from the garden at the 95th Street Farmer’s Market, donated to area groups like Beverly Farmacy, and shared harvests with their families.
Regarding the benefit of the learning garden, Garcia said, “It’s kind of in the name. You can learn about gardening and also eat what you grow.”
“Like over there,” Garcia continued, pointing to an area in back of the school’s recently rehabbed annex, “we have beans and chives. You can eat the chives right out of the ground without worrying about pesticides or herbicides.”
The club meets every Tuesday during the school year at 3:45 pm and consists of 30 students. Regular volunteers are Lambert Colitto, David Perry, former Kellogg teacher Trish O’Shea, Jill Zakayuskas, current art teacher Rachel Buff, Brittany Majka, and the club’s most recent volunteer John Wilk.
CEGA is Chicago’s only citywide garden award. According to CEGA’s website, the awards are distributed “… to acknowledge the myriad of ways the simple act of growing things creates a more beautiful, vibrant, sustainable and socially just communities. The awards provide recognition to people and organizations who make our city a healthier, more beautiful place.”
“ Kellogg has won recognition from CEGA for three years straight, excluding the pandemic years when the award was not given out,” Lambert Colitto said. She credits students and volunteers for the unending commitment that drew them to work on the garden before, during, and after the pandemic and Principal Corey Overstreet for his ongoing support and encouragement.