Permaculture garden in Cook County
How do you go about installing a permaculture garden in Chicago and Cook County? See Beginners permaculture garden for general guidelines for starting a permaculture garden. That's fine for general guidelines. What are the specifics for Chicago? Where is the best place to go in our area for a soil test, bed framing, top soil, drip lines, a composter, and a rain barrel?
 Soil Contamination and Testing
Listing of soil testing labs by Univ. of Illinois Extension Services.
Lead in soils in Chicago:
 Bed framing
 Top soil
 Drip lines
A source of free information:
 Rain barrel
For Chicago residents it's not so much the best place as the best time. That is to say, the City of Chicago will several times over the course of a year, sell rain barrels and Earth Machine "rat proof" composters for less than half the amount one would spend at a green store. Be sure to bring your drivers license as they will check for residency.
On old tires as planters: Tire-Planters-And-Garden-Soil
The only problem I have with this information is that it may not be directly relevant as they're talking about using the old tires as planters and not as raised beds. In our situtation, some of the decomposing agents, namely, UV and O_3, would not be hitting the tires, but I'd still be slightly wary of doing this. - Thx to Nathan C.