In 2017, a group of horticultural and environmental groups and institutions came together to find a way to recognize the contribution of gardeners to the City of Chicago. The goal was to acknowledge the myriad ways that the simple act of growing things creates more beautiful, vibrant, sustainable and socially just communities. The awards provide recognition to the hard work and creativity that make our city a healthier, more beautiful place. They support the pride we take in our neighborhoods and help us build our communities.

The 2017 awards were presented by The Mike Nowak Show, University of Illinois Extension: Cook County, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Community Gardeners Association – CCGA, Natural Awakenings Chicago Magazine, and the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, with the metal award signs provided by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Added presenters for the 2018 version of the awards are the Chicago Park District and Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA). Chicagoland Gardening Magazine is a media sponsor for the event and GreenMark Public Relations will provide marketing assistance.

Award categories include ornamental, vegetable, container and specialized gardens (think green roofs and walls, enabling gardens and more), as well as separate categories for community gardens and–new this year–urban farms. At present, the competition is open to residents of the City of Chicago only.