February 2018 Newsletter

Joins us!!!

Meet our Chairperson
School Garden of the Month:
 ** Martel Elementary School **

Celebrating 1 year with MSGN
Plant it Forward!

February Garden Tips
Events & opportunities

Please Join us for the 9th Annual Maine School Garden Day!


A full day of workshops and networking for School Garden enthusiasts will be hosted by Maine School Garden Network (MSGN) and Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC). Whether your dreaming of starting an educational garden or working to develop an existing program... this day is for you!


Topics include growing rice, hydroponics, aquaponics, Integrated Pest Management, curriculum, School Garden Grown exhibits and much more! Learn about the School Garden Coach Pilot program and the NEW School Garden Coach Manual, with over 60 links to additional resources. Hear stories from garden programs throughout Maine and connect with supporting organizations to build your knowledge and resources in time for this upcoming gardening season!

Registration begins at 8:00 and the day concludes at 4:30. All participants will receive Certificates for contact hours or CEU’s. The cost for the day is $30 ($40 after April 20) and includes local foods lunch.

For more information:

  • Download a copy of the agenda here.

  • Register online here.

  • To register by mail, download a copy of the registration form here.

  • Stay connected leading up to the event via Facebook here.

  • Scholarships are available through MAITC.

Please email for more information.
We look forward to seeing you there! 

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.


 Michelle Erhard, MSGN Chairperson

Michelle has a passion for growing, eating, and sharing her love of food. Although she grew up helping in her family’s kitchen in New Hampshire, it wasn’t until she was an undergraduate at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT when Michelle discovered her deep interest in food systems. She fell in love with the school’s educational farm and went on to volunteer on several organic farms before serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Saint Louis University. While in Missouri, Michelle learned about urban agriculture and the challenges of community food security. She stayed in St. Louis as the coordinator of City Greens, a nonprofit, local food market working to increase the accessibility of quality, affordable foods.

After a few years in St. Louis, Michelle was excited to return to her native New England. Set along the scenic Saco River in her year of FoodCorps service with Rippling Waters in Standish, Maine, Michelle strengthened the local school district’s garden programs, taught cooking and nutrition education, and helped grow culinary connoisseurs in the middle school Garden Club. After the year of service, Michelle stayed on with FoodCorps in the great state of Maine as the fellow where she has been able to deepen statewide connections and provide support to service members school gardens across Maine. 

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.

School Garden of the Month -
Martel Elementary School

Lewiston, Maine

Collectively creative, inspiringly ingenious and fantastically fabricated... it's how they roll at Martel School!

Martel School is a K-6 school in Lewiston. With nearly 300 students, this school and nearby Longley Elementary will be merging in just a couple years, moving to a brand new building. This two-school fusion has been in the works for some time, so the garden champions working with Martel elementary have determined an innovative approach to starting a school garden.


The idea of a wagon garden was conceptualized by staff members at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston (Shana Wallace and Rebecca Dugan in particular). Instead of putting in the effort of installing raised beds that would just have to be removed, the Nutrition Center’s new FoodCorps member, Hannah Gottlieb, who serves Martel Elementary , decided to try growing in garden beds that could move with them to the new school. Enter Martel’s Wagon Garden! As the photos show, the garden is a new take on an old classic. A Radio Flyer wagon is the base which houses a plastic tub. The tub has holes that were drilled into the bottom (for drainage which empties into the wagon itself) and it holds the soil. It was important to find a wagon that was big enough to accommodate the size of a grow light, which helps to help keep the plants healthy and is secured in the wagon garden with two straps. Students helped to fill the garden with soil and then plant it. Their teacher noticed the garden was very bright and distracting during class and added plastic over the top, covered by a piece of fabric.


One of the Martel’s sixth grade classes has been responsible for the care of the wagon garden, along with the help of a FoodCorps service member. Students conducted an assessment, carefully making sure that plants’ needs would be met in this setting, before discussing which plants might be best suitable. When considering their inaugural planting of the wagon garden, the class decided on their own to plant half of the kale and spinach seeds in rows, the other half scattered about, and to separate those two designs by a line of marigolds down the center--conducting an impromptu controlled experiment.


Martel’s Wagon Garden is in its pilot planting, so there is plenty more to come. MSGN will feature this project at Maine School Garden Day, when a wagon gardener will talk about how caretaking and exploration of the project has been incorporated into the school day. Join us at that event on April 28th to learn more about lessons learned from the Martel Wagon Garden!


How do you roll? Have a mobile garden or creative story to share? Email MSGN today to schedule a visit!

WANTED 2018 School Garden of the Month!
 Please email us and let us know that you would like to be one of our School Gardens of the Month.

Celebrating 1 Year with MSGN

Dear Friends of MSGN,

Thank YOU! To anyone over the past year who has read a newsletter, sent an email or made a phone call to MSGN, checked out our website, liked or commented on our Facebook page, made a donation, invited me to visit your garden or given me the opportunity to speak on and on about insects ;) ... THANK YOU! 

On February 6th I celebrated my first full year with Maine School Garden Network and it has been a year full of fun, opportunity and growth in many aspects of the word. The year has been busy with visits to schools, gardens and greenhouses, local nurseries, colleges, fairs, farms and inspired day trips and vacations for my family to places in Maine we never knew of or appreciated before. It even motivated us to have the most productive and enjoyable gardening season at home inspiring the start of a new garlic project (oh boy!). 

Best of all, I have met some of the most incredible teachers, volunteers and students who give me hope for a beautiful future for Maine's evolving food system. I am grateful for the inspiring stories, connections and knowledge that you've all shared with me and for the opportunity to share it with others as part of this growing network. Your collective dedication to educating Maine's children towards a healthier future is powerful and motivating.  I am thankful that I get to continue to grow with you!


Erika Verrier
Your MSGN Coordinator

Plant it Forward

It's so easy to get caught up in the planning of a new garden space, but it's important to take time to reflect on what brings us back to the garden each year.

No really.. why do YOU garden?

In Maine it feels like we spend 7 - 8 months planning and dreaming and then working like busy bees to get everything done in 4 - 5 months then the cycle starts over again. If you're like me you try to bottle up moments from the garden to mentally return to in the winter months - call it my "Happy Place". Nowadays having these experiences can really help us not only get through seemingly endless winters but gives us something to look forward to and connects us to nature.

Whatever it is that brings you back to the garden this year, I challenge you to share it with someone new!  With Spring coming, it is the perfect opportunity to invite someone to enjoy and learn from the experience. Think of a staff member, teacher, classroom, student, administrator or community member who could benefit from the garden experience and invite them to join you this year. Sow seeds of kindness, plant it forward and give them something great to believe in!
Sponsor Shout Out!

Griffin Greenhouse Supply
Many thanks to our generous sponsor Griffin Greenhouse Supply, a long standing resource for the professional horticultural industry throughout the US. We appreciate their local support for educational gardens here in Maine. For your upcoming season, we recommend taking a look at their offerings from full greenhouse kits to watering, tools, pots and even beneficial insects - Griffin has a wide variety of products. Check out their website or on location in Gray, Maine. 
Don't miss these upcoming events!

2018 Maine Flower Show at Thompson's Point, Portland, ME 
March 21st - 25th
The Maine Flower Show is one of the biggest gardening and horticultural shows in the region. A beautiful display of gardens, exhibits,  and outdoor living inspiration. For the 2018 show, in addition to 13 display gardens, the Maine Flower Show will have 115 exhibits of plants, hardscape, arbor and garden supplies, hands-on workshops and seminars led by experts in growing and outdoor living. Gardeners of all stripes enjoy this one-of-a-kind horticultural experience each year. Learn more here.
COME SEE US! MSGN will be featuring school gardens in a collaboration with Maine Ag in the Classroom, ReTreeUS and PlantSomething! There will be a scavenger hunt with prizes and admission is FREE for children under age 12. 

Seed Swap & Scion Exchange at MOFGA
March 25th

For gardeners and orchardists, it's the most wonderful flea market in the world. Not only that – most of the best stuff is free!
MOFGA, the Maine Tree Crop Alliance, and Fedco will once again host the Seed Swap and Scionwood Exchange at MOFGA’s Common Ground Exhibition Hall in Unity. Admission is free and the event runs from 10am - 3pm. Learn more here

2018 Nature Based Education Institute at University of Maine Farmington
May 18th - 20th

UMF is pleased to announce its third annual Nature Based Education Institute, an innovative professional development opportunity for educators and administrators interested in implementing or expanding upon nature-based programming in their classrooms. Learn more about the sessions offered and how to register here.

February Garden Tips: 

  • Register for Maine School Garden Day!
  • Focus on classroom garden related activities /curriculum and planning for spring gardening.
  • Lesson on seed packets and the info they provide and selection of flowers (if growing them). 
  • Do a lesson on monocot and dicot seeds - lesson plan available from York and Cumberland Co. Cooperative Extension Services 
  • Map out where you want things to grow using crop rotation and companion planting. Keep maps from season to season.
  • See food service director or school manager regarding what to grow that they can use. Have students meet with them as a class or select individual students to interview them and report back to the class (es). Select veggie seeds and materials after meeting with food service staff.
  • If growing in an unheated hoop or green house, start hardy greens (lettuces, spinach, mustards, radishes, etc.) by the end of month and do succession planting over the next six weeks or so.
  • Build your "IPM Toolbox" with help from MSGN - plan ahead on how to handle insect pests and plant diseases to keep your garden healthy. Email us for help today!

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.
Keep your eyes peeled!
MSGN is preparing to update their online directory. You should be hearing from us! Please keep an eye out for surveys and information requests. We want to know what's going on in your garden and how we can help!


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!


Feb 9th, 2018: Maine Farm to Institute Summit (Belfast)
March 21st, 2018: Maine Flower Show (Portland)
April 11th, 2018: Maine Nutrition Council Annual Conference (Lewiston)
April 28th, 2018: Maine School Garden Day (Hinckley)

May 18th - 20th: 2018 Nature Based Education Institute (Farmington)
June 26th - 29th 2018: National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference Coming to MAINE! (Portland)

Check out...
Wild Seed Project's Walks & Talks
View MOFGA's events calendar here.


Maine Ag in the Classroom - 2018 Education Grants June 7th
The Flannel Shirt Fund – June 1, October 1, February 1 ($400 to $1200)
RetreeUS – orchards for schools, ongoing
MOFGA SCHOLARSHIP - MARCH 1ST, 2018 DEADLINE - $1,500 for 1 Maine high school senior planning to study sustainable or organic farming.

Annie's Grants for Gardens - 2018 new grants TBA
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 © 2018 Maine School Garden Network, All rights reserved.

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