November 2018 Newsletter

Thanks for joining us
~ Annual Meeting ~

Cultivate Gratitude in 2019
Looking Ahead - MSGN visits!

School Garden of the Month:
 ** Hall Dale Elementary **

Meet the MSGN Board
November Garden Tips
Events & Opporunities


2018 Annual Meeting Recap
Thank you for joining us!


We were delighted by the turnout and support last month at our Annual Meeting. Many of you came to enjoy the tour at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and to celebrate the progress we've made after 10 consecutive years of service to school gardens. We value the input we received from our collective "dreaming session" and we are grateful for the contributions that have been committed to MSGN in the coming years. Collecting the messages from leaves of the gratitude tree was a heartfelt experience - we are so lucky to work with such talented, driven and passionate people. You help shape our organization, your inspire us to grow and we look forward to continue working with you.  


Check out our photo album from the event here.

Special thanks to our friends at

Cultivate Gratitude in 2019

Inspire students, staff and community to share what makes them thankful with MSGN's Gratitude Tree. Create a colorful display of personalized leaves on the tree mural and inspire positivity at your school. After all, growing gratitude is a beautiful thing and we invite you to experience it at your school in 2019! 

It's easy, here's how:
  • Email us to host the mural for a month
  • Display the 9ft x 8ft mural at your school
  • Cut your own blank paper leaves out
  • Invite students, staff and the community to write notes of thanks or kindness on the leaves
  • Display the personalized leaves on the tree
  • Admire all the beautiful reasons your community is thankful!
  • Arrange to return the tree to MSGN
The Gratitude Tree has traveled to several schools throughout Maine inspiring thoughts of thanks and words of kindness. Some schools have used it to put a spotlight on the benefits of their school garden, others have used it to collect kindness notes for retiring staff member. There's always a reason to be thankful, what ever the season. When will you host the Gratitude Tree and cultivate kindness at your school?? Email us today! 

Looking Ahead

With 2019 right around the corner, we are already wondering how we can help you! Do you need support for...
  • planning your garden
  • connecting curriculum
  • managing pests
  • gathering resources
MSGN is planning site visits into the coming year. No matter the season, we are always excited to learn about your program and help you plan ahead for success.
We lend support to garden educators and leaders, but did you know that we also offer educational visits year round for students of all ages?  Let us plan a visit to help keep your students thinking about their impact in the garden this winter and learn how to prepare for the garden challenges ahead.
Contact us today to plan a visit!   

School Garden of the Month -
Hall Dale Elementary School

Hallowell, Maine

Community and parent volunteers are the key to cultivating success in this garden, there is so much to be thankful for!

Hall-Dale Elementary's school garden is in its infancy yet students, families, and staff are excited by the potential it holds. Hall-Dale Elementary, located in central Maine near Augusta, serves the towns of Hallowell and Farmingdale. It is a pre-K through 5th grade school with about 375 students. Conversations about the desire for a garden had been going on for years when in the of Spring 2017, member of the the PTO started the school garden. The school garden plots are part of Hallowell's larger community gardens situated on the elementary school's property. Being part of the community garden, the town of Hallowell rototills the garden each year and provides easy access to water. 
To ensure success while being a manageable endeavor, the first year's goal was simple: keep the garden alive with parent involvement over the summer. This was achieved and harvested produce was donated to the school's cafeteria, local foodbank, and school food pantry bags. The primary goals of the 2018 garden was to integrate the garden into the classroom curriculum and increase the garden's exposure to the Hall-Dale community. With continued parent and teacher involvement and with many helpful tips from MSGNS's garden coach guide, the garden survived and thrived. With family's volunteering one week of their time and occasional weeding/watering play dates over the summer, come September several classes enjoyed working in a garden filled with thriving zinnias, cosmos, several types of squash, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and purple and green beans. This Septmeber, HDES's three Kindergarten classes toured the garden and were incredible at harvesting all the garden's bounty. First graders released Monarch butterflies that loved the garden's zinnias and harvested pumpkins that they planted as Kindergartners. Second graders experimented with different growing conditions for their tomato seedlings before transplanting them late Spring.
Harvested produce was enjoyed in the classroom, used in the school's salad bar, put in a general bin for anyone to take and enjoy, and a variety of our garden's bounty (canned pickles, dilly beans, fresh tomatoes, and flower arrangements) was showcased at our school wide barbeque in September. The support by our new prinicple, Kristie Clark, our teachers, and our parent volunteers has been amazing.  Our goals for next year include recruiting more parent volunteers, growing more produce for our school cafeteria and encouraging more grades, especially the older grades, to experience all the garden has to offer.

Thank you to Johnny's Selected Seeds for their continued support for our School Garden of the Month locations!
Please email us and let us know if you would like to be one of our School Gardens of the Month for 2019.

Pleased to Meet You!

Ever wondered who is behind the scenes of the Maine School Garden Network?
2018 is the year to meet the group of volunteers and staff who make it all happen! Each month we will introduce you to someone new.


 Jon Thurston, MSGN Board Member

Jon was a teacher involved in school gardens for 27 years.  His last 10 years he was the garden coordinator at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.  He has worked as a mentor through Farm to School for the Falmouth School district and Walker school in Liberty.  Recently he is volunteering at the middle school and elementary schools in Belfast. We are so thankful to have Jon's experience and knowledge on our team!   

We look forward to introducing you to a new MSGN board member each month here in the newsletter and hope to shake hands at future events and workshops!

If you are interested in becoming a board member or discovering volunteer opportunities with MSGN please send us an email.

See us at the Trades Show!

MSGN invites you to stop by the Demonstration Stage at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show on Thursday, January 17th from 11:00am - Noon for live cooking demonstrations. We'll be there with students making smoothies! Come watch, learn and taste samples of delicious and nutritious recipes featuring Maine ingredients made by students who benefit from our programs.

Have a favorite smoothie recipe?
Share it with us!
Congratulations to RSU22!!
In celebration of National Farm to School Month in October, they signed up to "Take the Pledge" which qualified them to win prizes for sharing their district's commitment to local food. As a First Runner Up Winner they received a $1,000 Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ Kit, a Garden Starter Organic Seed Collection from High Mowing Organic Seeds, and one year's worth of delicious organic dairy products from the farmer-owners at Organic Valley Cooperative. This contest was organized by the National Farm to School Network and RSU 22 was proud to share their success story with us.
We are proud of the work that  all school gardeners put in every day to grow food, teach students and make local connections that inspire food education and healthy eating in Maine. Here's an inspiring story of how sharing that work can give back to your program!  

Did you have a fruitful Farm to School Month? Share your story with us today at

November Garden Ideas:

  • Harvest cool weather crops
  • In unheated hoop or greenhouse:
    • cover newly planted crops on cold nights (row covers/remay)
    • winter seed spinach and mulch, for spring crop
  • Remove plant waste, discard diseased waste and compost the rest
  • Rake leaves and pine needles and add to compost
  • Mulch garlic, flower bulbs, new and recently divided perennials, raised beds and barren spaces
  • Take soil samples before ground freezes and submit for testing in January
  • Drain and store rain barrels
  • Bring in garden hoses, sprinklers, fragile garden decorations, etc.
  • Wash and dry tools, seed starting materials and pots. Store inside.
  • Build a compost system
  • Plan cooking project using fall crops (carrots, potatoes, winter squash, garlic and onions : soups, muffins, etc.
  • Contact MSGN for a visit!

 Check out our MONTHLY SCHOOL GARDEN CHECKLIST to learn more about what this month looks like in the garden! For more information, try out these awesome resources: MOFGA's Planting Calendar, Fedco's Veggie Chart, and Johnny's Planting Calculator and Succession Planting Template.
Recommended Reading

A Soil Owner's Manual
How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health

"There are at least 2,000 pounds of soil microbes in each acre of healthy soil; the weight of 2 cows."
Here's the dirt on why I'm recommending this book about soil:
1) Soil is literally at the root of everything we are working with and it seems most schools I work with are always looking for a helpful reference on learning and teaching the importance of soil health.
2) I've yet to get a bad book recommendation from a great garden teacher ;)
So, when Ted Bridge-Koenigsberg at Sebago Elementary School kindly sent me a copy, I knew I had to share it forward. He favors it because after reading this easy explanation on soil health and enlisting some of the practices detailed in the book they are "beginning to see some real changes" in the quality of the soil in their raised bed garden. Thank you for sharing Ted!

Winter is a great time to catch up on reading. Have any resources to recommend? Let us know! 
We are building our network and our team!
Are you interested in having an impact on garden education in Maine? Join us for updates on statewide programs and projects - let's grow together!
Future Meeting Dates: Nov 28th, Dec 26th
Meetings are held in Augusta, inquire about remote connections.
Email us today at


"The Kid's Menu" - FREE Viewing: Dec 15
2019 Maine Agricultural Tradeshow: Jan 15th - 17th
2019 Maine Flower Show: March 28th - 31st
Spring 2019: Maine School Garden Day - stay tuned!
View MOFGA's events calendar here.


The Flannel Shirt Fund – June 1, October 1, February 1 ($400 to $1200)
RetreeUS – orchards for schools, ongoing
New England Grassroots Environment Fund –Seed grants ($250-$1000): ongoing

Seattle Seed Company Organic Seed Fundraiser

KidsGardening Grants - Budding Botanist due Nov 19th, Youth Garden Grant due Dec 17th, Carton2Garden due March 25th
Digital Wish Grants – 15th of every month, submit a lesson plan to win
Fruit Tree 101 – orchards for schools, ongoing
Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools – get a salad bar for your school, ongoing
Whole Kids Foundation Grants - School Garden grant, Extended Learning grant, Honey Bee grants and more!

A HUGE thank you to our SPONSORS!

Copyright © 2018 MSGN, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333

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Maine School Garden Network · 28 State House Station · Augusta, ME 04330 · USA

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