Fiskars, Lowes and Greencorps Plant Hope on Chicago’s South Side


Fiskars has given one of Chicago’s challenged South Side neighborhoods a much needed garden overhaul.

Inspired by the actions of some of history’s “green” revolutionaries, Fiskars is joining with the Chicago Department of Environment’s Greencorps Chicago and Lowe’s to bring nature back to Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens community with the Project Orange ThumbSM initiative.

Over 60 people, including Fiskars employees and executives, volunteered their time to redevelop the aging garden site on May 21. The $75,000 makeover includes all donated labor, design time, project coordination, tools, planting materials and all necessary supplies. Lowe’s, United Industries, and Bonnies donated all of the materials for the project.

“Altgeld Gardens is the first national gardening makeover project for Fiskars. Because the community asked for assistance, we feel they truly appreciate the importance of gardening to provide beauty, sustainable food resources and a place of community,” said Paul Tonnesen, President of Fiskars Garden.



Master Gardener Joe Lamp’l, nationally known as “Joe Gardener,” designed the garden for the Altgeld community. Lamp’l is a Certified Landscape Professional and founder of The joe gardener® Company. The garden design includes raised vegetable beds, herb gardens, raspberry patches, pumpkin and melon patches, butterfly bushes, a community gathering area and more. Also, taking from one of the original gardening activists, Lamp’l designed in an apple orchard in honor of Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman.

One of the first public housing developments in the U.S., Altgeld Gardens is located in a community near numerous manufacturing plants, former steel mills, waste dumps and landfills (read more - Altgeld Gardens, Wikipedia). Because of this, community leaders reached out to Greencorps Chicago and Fiskars to help create a beautiful, functional area for the neighborhood.


“Our community is incredibly grateful to Fiskars for selecting our group,” said Gertte Smith, Director of Site Operations for Altgeld Gardens. “Words can not express the amount of gratitude we have and how delighted we are to have been given this opportunity.”

The “GreenUp Chicago” initiative is an extension of Fiskars’ successful Project Orange Thumb garden grant program. Started in 2003, Project Orange Thumb provides community garden groups with the tools and materials needed to reach their goals for neighborhood beautification and horticulture education. To date, Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb has provided over 100 community groups with more than $200,000 to create and develop their own special community gardens.

The Project Orange Thumb “GreenUp Chicago 2008” initiative has support from Greencorps Chicago, Lowe’s, United Industries, Bonnies and the Altgeld Gardens community.