July 2017 Newsletter


School Garden Coach Program:
** Awards & Progress! **
Plan ahead for discovery with students
Get Inspired! Farm to School Experience 
Where's your invitation to grow & show?
School Garden of the Month:
 ** Reflecting on a year of success! **
July in the garden: water, weeds & more
Tea time! Can you dig?

School Garden Coach Program
Congratulations & Updates!

The purpose of the School Garden Coach (SGC) Program is to offer guidance to schools by further investigating the concept of a garden coach, a paid garden educator position similar to a school sports coach, and lay the groundwork for promoting this position in Maine schools. A School Garden Coach is a leader who coordinates all gardening efforts and maintenance, advocates for support and encourages engagement of students, staff and community.  The primary goal for promoting this model is to reduce barriers for garden program success and improve the health and abilities of young people facing child hunger. The investment in a paid position increases recognition of the program and elicits commitment from both the educator and the school. Using this program as a proving grounds, we aspire to help schools adopt a self sustaining model worth investing in. MSGN launched the project last year and have recently completed a valuable year of exploring the model.

Thank you!
Stay tuned for tools and resources to promote the School Garden Coach model in your school. A comprehensive manual will be available on our website in 2018!
Thank you for support from our sponsors on this project.

Plan Ahead for Discovery
Space is limited to sign up for 
The Garden Health Engagement Project

WANTED: School garden programs interested in techniques to engage students of ALL GRADE LEVELS in discovering pests and diseases. Sign up for a visit from the MSGN Coordinator, learn with your students about the impact you have on managing plant health. Even identify "good bugs" in your garden and build your custom "IPM Toolbox"!
This project aims at:
1) Encouraging appreciation for food and techniques for keeping plants healthy
2) Exploring new perspective in the garden and inspire "real world" thinking
3) Empowering students and teachers to approach plant health challenges
4) Inspiring opportunities to prevent stagnation in the winter
IPM fits ALL gardens, let MSGN show you how!
Sign up here.

School Garden of the Month -
Reflecting on a year of success!

       Last year the Maine School Garden Network embarked on a journey with the support of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom's General Ag Awareness Grant to explore exemplary school garden programs. The mission was to uncover the achievements and challenges at a different location each month and to share them and inspire you all to succeed and overcome in your own gardens. Little did we expect to become so inspired and motivated in our own mission to promote and support educational gardens, and to encourage school programs that teach healthy eating and environmental stewardship. The opportunities to learn about these gardens and programs from garden leaders, staff and especially students has provided outlook and opportunity beyond the duration of this grant project. The passion and creativity felt in the educational gardens across this State is incredible and we are so thankful to be a resource for growing your gardens, students, and communities! 


Take a look back at the articles that featured School Garden of the Month:

Month School Name Town
Aug 2016 Walker Memorial Elementary School Liberty
Sep 2016 Messalonskee Middle & High School Oakland
Oct 2016 Ridge View Community School Dexter
Nov 2016 Saccarappa Elementary School Westbrook
Dec 2016 Albert S. Hall School Waterville
Jan 2017 Manchester Learning Gardens Windham
Feb 2017 Troy Howard Middle School Belfast
Mar 2017 RSU 22 Hampden
Apr 2017 Edna Drinkwater Elementary School Northport
May 2017 Trenton School Trenton
June 2017 Ellsworth Elementary Middle School Ellsworth

We recognize value of this project and intend to continue featuring these monthly stories from school gardens across the State. We'd love to know how the "School Garden of the Month" stories have inspired you! Please send us feedback or let us know when you'd like us to feature your school garden, email us at

Where's your invitation?

Fair season is fast approaching and we are ramping up to display School Garden Grown produce in 13 exhibit halls across the State this year! To increase participation we will be sending out invitations to school gardens who are local to the following fairs:
Bangor Fair, Monmouth Fair, Skowhegan Fair, Union Fair, Windsor Fair, Blue Hill Fair, Clinton Lions Fair, Litchfield Fair, Oxford County Fair, Farmington Fair, Common Ground Fair, Cumberland Fair and Fryeberg Fair.

MSGN would love to see ALL school gardens use this opportunity to promote awareness of their great work and "show off" their School Garden Grown! We know how hard you work and we want to see the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. You could WIN PRIZE MONEY! Everyone's a winner when we work together to promote educational gardens throughout Maine. Sign up to receive your invitation here!

Get Inspired!
2017 Farm to School Institute Experience

Every wonder what goes on at the Farm To School Institute and how it can inspire your school??  Participating in this year-long educational development opportunity is an honor that only 12 schools in New England get to experience. We checked in with Mary Dunn, Teacher and Garden Coach at Albert S. Hall School in Waterville, ME after an inspiring week away in Vermont to embark on this important work. Here's what she had to share:

There is something uniquely magical about spending three days at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champaign, the campus of Shelburne Farms is nothing short of awe inspiring. From the incredibly beautiful and luxurious Shelburne Farms Inn that we stayed at, to the barns we worked in, to the rolling hills we strolled through, this was the perfect place for the annual Northeast Farm to School Institute. And if that wasn’t enough, the delicious food that was served was grown and raised on campus and helped make this experience truly memorable.  

As our school’s newly enacted Farm to School team, we worked with other New England schools to begin the year long development of our Farm to School action plan. The longer we worked together, the more we realized the absolute need to do such important work. With the help of the incredibly knowledgable staff from VT FEED and our dedicated coach, our action plan work focused on incorporating and integrating into our program the three components of Farm to School: classroom, cafeteria, and community. Farm to School is much more than just procuring local foods and serving them in our cafeterias. By addressing these three components of a successful Farm to School program our focus is on how to connect our classrooms, cafeteria, and school community to improve our school community’s relationship with healthy food. For example, our classroom and cafeteria connections include how to more seamlessly incorporate our Fresh Fruits and Vegetables program into our classroom culture thus opening up deeper explorations of the role healthy foods have on our bodies and/or where our food comes from. We are also working to connect classroom research with the local foods we introduce via taste tests with the goal of getting those foods on our lunch trays and into our children’s tummies. For our community piece we are working to include our families and staff into our daily lunchroom to serve as positive role models for eating new and healthy foods.  

 To say we have come back energized and ready to move this work forward is an understatement. Bringing healthy food and growing experiences to our students, families, and staff is the central focus of our work. This retreat and year long commitment is something that every school in Maine should strive to participate in. As the Hall School Farm to School program moves forward we are happy to share our work with anyone who is interested.
Mary Dunn, Albert S. Hall School

Don't miss these upcoming events!

Nature Gather & Grow: Garden Pest & Disease Walk
Join MOFGA's own Eric Sideman as we explore one of Cultivating Community's community gardens and learn about summer pests and diseases in the garden. Meet us at the Casco Bay Community Garden on the Eastern Promenade. The cross streets are Eastern Promenade and Melbourne. Hosted by MOFGA on Wednesday July 12th 6pm - 7pm at 195 North Street in Portland, ME. Learn more here.

Wild Seed Project - Summer Events
Be sure to check out the fun line up of walks, talks and workshops for ongoing learning opportunities this summer. From the fields to the ponds you'll learn about native plants, herbs and pollinators and how to incorporate them into your garden. Learn more about Wild Seed Project and these events on their website.

2017 MAITC Summer Teachers Institute

The 2017 Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Summer Teachers Institute will be held at The University Maine, Farmington with 36 contact hours or 3.6 CEU's available for recertification. July 31st - Aug 4th, the week will start with curriculum sessions at the College focused on STEM, Nutrition and higher level thinking for students in regard to agriculture. The week-long workshop will include lessons, online resources and grant opportunities and a trip to Boothby's Orchard and Farm Winery. All participants will leave with armloads of materials and megabytes of technology integrating agriculture into your classes from Pre K – 12th grade. Get more details and register here.

July Garden Tips: 

Repair leaky hoses, broken tools, cracked watering cans as needed.

Periodically check to make sure summer volunteers are coming to water, weed and pick ripe veggies

Start a new garden bed using the sheet mulching/lasagna layering method (google either term and/or permaculture). It’ll be ready for next spring.

Mulch bare garden ground to retain soil moisture and add visual appeal to your gardens

Continue succession planting, especially when a crop goes by. You’ll have food for the school cafeteria or food bank well into Fall. Plant things like lettuces, spinach, arugula, Brussel sprouts, green beans, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, carrots, radishes, beets, cilantro and dill.

Check out, enter your plant hardiness zone and you’ll find a chart giving the best times to plant certain crops.

If you have bare spots, buy some colorful annuals to fill in; they’re often sold at reduced prices at local nurseries and big box stores.

Harvest garlic when tops are turning brown and dry the heads. Save some for fall planting in October.

Summer watering to conserve water, help prevent plant disease and to save time:
  • Consider putting in an underground watering or drip system and put it on a timer.
  • If no underground system, water in the early morning whenever possible.
  • Water deeply. One inch a week for established plants and more often for newly planted seeds and seedlings.
  • Pay attention to what rainfall Mother Nature provides and adjust watering appropriately.
  • When possible, water around the plant rather than directly onto the leaves and flowers.
  • If using an above ground sprinkler, water earlier in the day, not later. Plant leaves will have a chance to dry off.
  • Avoid mid-day watering. Plant leaves can “burn” and water evaporates, meaning less moisture for plants.
     Check out our SCHOOL GARDEN CALENDAR 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.
Tea Time!

Treat your garden to some compost tea!

It's so easy, and it's great way to repurpose those weeds that have been robbing up valuable nutrients from your soil. Compost teas have been a staple in organic gardens for a long time- it could be just the boost your garden needs!

Learn more here.

Wolfe's Neck Farm
Unique summer getaway & education opportunities!
From oceanfront camping to classes, camps and even community gardens - Wolfe's Neck Farms is a great place to explore agriculture and enjoy nature here in Maine. So much to explore! 
Visit them for more information here.
Can you dig it?
A better question is...
Should you?

How's it growing?

If not as well as you expected, perhaps your soil is to blame. Dig up a sample and send it to the University of Maine's Soil Testing Services. They can tell you just what you need to get back on track.

Get more information and a sample box here.



Do you have a new project you'd like to promote in your school garden? Are there things you'd like for us to share with you? Let us know!


June 23 - 24: Nature Based Education Summer Institute (Farmington)

June 27 - 29: Northeast Farm to School Institute (Shelburne, VT)

July 31 - August 4: Summer Teacher's Institute (Farmington)


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, “Grow” Grants ($1000-$3000): September 15

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!

For more grant opportunities, visit

A HUGE thank you to our SPONSORS!

Copyright © 2017 Maine School Garden Network, All rights reserved.

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