Inaugural Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards

The Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards (CEGA) come to the Windy City this summer, providing an opportunity for Chicago gardeners to strut their stuff. CEGA will acknowledge the individuals, communities, schools and other institutions that contribute their time and energy to make the city of Chicago a beautiful, sustainable and welcoming place to live.

       The inaugural competition includes four garden types within four categories, as well as a separate category for community gardens. The four garden types that are eligible to receive the awards include ornamental, vegetable, container and specialized gardens (such as green roofs and walls, rain gardens, enabling gardens, sidewalk cafes and others). The four categories are residential small, residential large, schools and other organizations (such as churches, businesses, fire stations, etc.). To highlight the value of neighbors that work together to create healthier and greener areas, 12 community gardens throughout the city will be recognized in a separate category.

       There is a special emphasis on sustainable gardens, those that incorporate native plants, harvest rainwater, employ the use of compost, transform turf into garden space, use recycled materials and cater to birds and wildlife.

       Sponsored by The Mike Nowak Show, University of Illinois Extension, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Community Gardeners Association and Natural Awakenings Chicago, the competition is open to residents of the city of Chicago. Entries are being accepted until June 23. Gardens will be judged during the month of July and the awards ceremony will be held in September.

For more information and to enter, visit and click on the Chicagoland Excellence and Gardening Awards graphic. To become a judge, call Illinois Extension at 773-233-2900 or email Sponsorships for this event are still available; contact Mike Nowak at


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Inaugural Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards

The Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards (CEGA) come to the Windy City this summer, providing an opportunity for Chicago gardeners to strut their stuff.