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 and coach you all along the way, helping you to become a more knowledgeable, experienced, and confident gardener!

  • 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 receive 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, transplant seedlings, 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, identify weeds and know that some can be useful (it's true!), 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!

Your Instructor

Permaculture Design and Organic Gardening Instructor

Permaculture Design and Gardening Instructor

Connie Kollmeyer

Connie has been an organic gardener for over 20 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 can find 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 Professor, and a volunteer at many natural areas and gardens dedicated to increasing food security and community resilience. She has a small flock of backyard hens, and as a lifelong learner, is currently learning beekeeping as well.