Start your gardening journey on the right path!

This class will help guide you in the right direction to avoid common gardening mistakes and walk you through a full season of successful organic gardening and bountiful harvests! Connie, your instructor and personal gardening mentor, will be by your side to answer your questions along the way, helping you to become a more knowledgeable, experienced, and confident gardener! If you feel you need additional help in your own garden outside of class time, supplemental garden coaching sessions are available for an additional fee, discounted for current students. Please schedule these with your instructor.

  • What You Will Learn

    Learn to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit organically, with nature and your experienced instructor as your guides!

    You will gain knowledge and tips for growing in raised bed gardens and containers, and learn what we can do to ensure the best soil health for growing happy, healthy, productive plants directly in our local garden soils as well, keeping our direct connection with the earth and supporting a healthy soil food web, which is so important for the health of our plants and ourselves!

    This course is perfect for those who are new to gardening or who have a little experience and a lot of questions! We will walk you through the entire season from preparing your soil, to planting seeds and transplanting plants, to harvesting, to prepping your beds for winter.

  • How You Will Learn

    "Lenore's Backyard Garden" at The Conservation Foundation's McDonald Farm in Naperville will serve as our outdoor classroom for this hands-on course series! The garden consists of raised beds, a fruit tree guild, border gardens, pollinator plants, compost bins, and more.

    We will meet in the garden monthly from May through October to see first-hand what is happening in the garden each month, learn what to look for and what to expect throughout the season, and get hands-on practice meeting seasonal garden challenges as they occur.

    Between our monthly classes, you will also have access to tips, resources, videos, and a class discussion board in our online student portal to support you through the weeks until the next class!

  • Skills You Will Acquire

    Throughout the growing season, you will gain skills and knowledge needed to prepare your garden soil, direct-sow the right seeds at the right time and care for them as they grow, and transplant seedlings.

    You will learn to utilize companion planting, support pollinators, know the pests to watch for and how to manage them naturally, recognize common diseases and know what to do about them, and identify weeds and know that some can be useful (it's true!)

    You will learn best watering practices and conservation, discover the best timing and techniques for harvesting, and utilize organic gardening techniques and permaculture principles and practices to reduce inputs and garden more sustainably and successfully!

    You will gain the knowledge and experience needed to continue in your gardening journey with more confidence!

Scroll for information on "Pay-What-You-Can" Scholarships, Work-Trade Opportunities, and Early Bird Pricing Options Below!

In-Person Class Schedule

Class will meet monthly in the garden on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7:30pm on the following dates from May through October:


Additional online content will be provided before in-person classes start and in between the in-person classes.

Please dress for the weather and for gardening! You can even wear your brand new TRI T-Shirt to class! You will receive one FREE with your registration! Classes will be held rain or shine.

Your Instructor

Permaculture Design and Organic Gardening Instructor

Permaculture Design and Gardening Instructor

Connie Kollmeyer

Connie has been an organic gardener for 25 years and specializes in natural, sustainable, and regenerative growing systems that produce an abundance of food, flowers, and herbs in relatively small spaces. She runs her own small-scale suburban farm, Copper Fox Farm, using her years of experience and learning, including knowledge gleaned from her 2014 Permaculture Design Certificate (hosted at The Resiliency Institute) and her Master Urban Farmer training through the University of Illinois Extension. You may have met her at local farmers markets selling fresh heirloom produce, herbs, and flowers, plus foraged items and herbal preparations. To broaden her foraged and herbal knowledge and offerings, she completed The Resiliency Institute’s Edible Wild Plants Certificate and Bioregional Herbalism Certificate. Connie also owns and manages Plot Twist Permaculture, growing gardens for others in their own outdoor spaces and coaching them to become successful organic gardeners on their own. Connie is a Master Naturalist, Environmental Educator, Adjunct Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Study Abroad Instructor at College of DuPage, and recently earned an International Permaculture Teaching Certificate after completing training in Spain. She is a volunteer in local natural areas as well as gardens and seed libraries dedicated to increasing food security, sovereignty, and community resilience. She has a small flock of backyard hens, and as a lifelong learner, she is currently learning beekeeping as well, and is pursuing her master of science degree in regenerative organic agriculture.

"Pay-What-You-Can" Resiliency Scholarships

The Resiliency Institute (TRI) is committed to increasing diversity in the global permaculture and resiliency-building movements (valuing diversity is a permaculture principle!) and we are also working hard to decrease financial barriers to access for our classes. We are excited to offer our Beginning Gardener course through a “Pay-What-You-Can'' Resiliency Scholarship.

We recognize the history of the land that is called the United States and seek to do what we can to help rectify the deep injustices and systems of inequity that form today’s society. BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, refugee, DACA, financially challenged, essential workers, and other under-served and under-represented people are encouraged to apply.

The number of scholarships provided will be based on the number of applicants and funding requested. Please complete and submit the application by midnight on 5/9/2022 for consideration. Recipients will be notified by 5/12/2022. Class begins on 5/17/22.

Photography and Social Media Work-Trade

Do you enjoy photography, graphic design, and social media?

This option involves taking photos during class, uploading them to The Resiliency Institute’s shared drive, creating graphics and social media images in TRI’s Canva account, and sharing a monthly post on your own social media platforms about a class experience or topic that appealed to you and tagging TRI in your post(s). Professional training is not required; amateur/hobbyist and student designers are welcome to apply! Work exchange for this class entails approximately 1.5 support hrs/mo. for 6 months. Apply by midnight on May 9, 2022. Recipients will be notified by 5pm on May 12th. Class begins in-person on May 17th.

Forest Garden Friends Work-Trade

Would you enjoy sharing time outside with a group in TRI’s Edible Forest Gardens?

This option offers a student an opportunity to host a Forest Garden Friends gathering on an evening or weekend each month in TRI’s Edible Forest Garden at McDonald Farm in Naperville. This student will host social time in the garden and share a concept learned in class with the group. Work exchange for this class entails approximately 1.5 support hrs/mo. for 8 months. Apply by midnight on May 9, 2022. Recipients will be notified by 5pm on May 12th. Class begins in-person on May 17th.

Early Bird Pricing Options

The early bird gets the best deals! Save on the regular price of this immersive resiliency-building gardening course by registering early! The earlier you register, the more you save! Register with one of our high-value, low-cost early bird registration options through March 31, 2022! Regular pricing will be effective as of April 1st.

Did you miss the early bird pricing? During April, register with a friend or family member and you will each save $20 on your registrations! Use code Friends20 at checkout.