August 2017 Newsletter


School Garden Grown - A GROWING SUCCESS!
Planning your Open House Event
School Garden of the Month:
 ** Margaret Murphy Center for Children **

Opportunity to join the MSGN Team
"Sage Advice" & Other Herb Preservation Info
August Garden Tips

Upcoming events & opportunities

A Growing Success!

We are excited to congratulate the Garden clubs at Ridge View Community School in Dexter on 4 BLUE RIBBONS won at Bangor Fair and Messalonskee High School for their 3rd place winning Herb Display at Skowhegan Fair!!
There are still plenty more opportunities to submit entries at more than 10 fairs across the State including 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 more information here!

Planning your School Garden
Open House Event

Open House Events are a great opportunity to promote awareness of your school garden. Starting the school year off by inviting students, staff and community members to engage in the garden and its offerings can lead to opportunities for everyone!  These events are great for gaining interest and participation as well as support for garden help and resources. Here are some ideas on how to make your event a success!

The number one thing to remember is to have fun. Event planning can be stressful but you can keep it super simple and still have a great offering for your community! Don't forget to encourage folks to visit other gardens too.

A simple agenda might include:

  • Garden tours
  • Student work displays
  • Produce for sale
  • Some simple snacks (maybe have a local business or restaurant donate, or have visitors help harvest their own straight from the garden)
  • A fun garden scavenger hunt

School Garden of the Month -
Margaret Murphy Center for Children in Lewiston, ME 

Educational gardens enhance everyone's lives in different ways! I connected with Candace Minkowsky at the MAITC Summer Tearcher's Institute earlier this month and had to learn more about the program!

The Margaret Murphy Centers for Children are a licensed special education placement and day treatment facilities for students with Autism and developmental disabilities. There are seven schools and there are about 130 youth and young adults being served! The garden is located at 655, which is one of our middle-secondary locations.

This school garden started several years ago, and has recently been renovated with 3-tiered beds added in our backyard. We have added blueberry, raspberry, and strawberries plants this year. We grow tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, beets, pumpkins, beans, and also have an herb garden for mostly a sensory experience for the students. The students help with weeding, cultivating the soil regularly, and harvesting. Some of our students use the produce to create their meals for the week. Our goal for next year, is to have enough fresh produce for the students as well as enough to send home with families. Our biggest challenge this year was getting teachers motivated to be involved and role models in the garden for our students. However, I have begun to create schedules and a task chart for next year to help guide teachers/students!
- Candace Minkowsky, Special Education Teacher/Case Worker

Candace is energetic and very excited to grow the program. Check out their Facebook page to connect and keep up with all that's happening at the Margaret Murphy Center for Children in Lewiston.

Join our Team!

The Maine School Garden Network is seeking enthusiastic new Board Members!

Are you motivated to support the development of school gardens across Maine? Do you have valuable experiences and connections that can serve our mission?

Let us know! Email us to learn more about this opportunity!

"Sage Advice" & Other Herb Preservation Tips 

Herbs add wonderful, fresh flavor to any meal. Now is the perfect time to not only use them fresh, but to preserve them for later use. Here are 2 methods from Longfellow's Greenhouse.
1. Drying Herbs
Drying herbs is one of the easiest methods for preserving herbs. Simply hang small bunches in a well-ventilated room away from light. Once the leaves have dried, you can remove them from their stems and store in an airtight container. You can also use a dehydrator which is a fast and easy method of drying herbs. Tender-leaf herbs such as basil benefit from the dehydrator method as they have a high moisture content and can mold quickly. Dried herbs can last up to a year when stored in a cool, dry location. Below is a list of herbs that can easily be preserved by drying:
2. Freezing Herbs
Freezing fresh herbs is another simple method for preserving your homegrown herbs. There are several freezing methods you can try, both are simple and efficient!
One option is freezing individual leaves. Rinse your herbs with water and remove the leaves from their stems.  Place the herbs on a flat tray and allow them to dry. Once dry, place the tray with the herbs in the freezer. Once frozen, you can place the herbs in freezer bags or containers. This allows you to pick out as many individual leaves as you need at a later time.
Another option is freezing your herbs in ice-cube trays with water. Snip about 1 tablespoon of herb leaves into each cube of the tray. Fill the tray about ¾ full with water and freeze.  Once frozen, top off with more water and freeze again. Once the trays are fully frozen, you can pop out the cubes and place in plastic storage bags. These frozen cubes are perfect for dropping in soups and stews for a fresh herb flavor! Frozen herbs can last from 6 months to a year in your freezer. Below is a list of herbs that can easily be frozen:
·Cilantro ·Chives
·Dill ·Lemon Balm
·Lovage ·Mint
·Oregano ·Sage
·Sweet Marjoram ·Tarragon
Whichever method you choose for preserving your herbs, be sure to harvest right before the flower buds open. This will give you the highest concentration of oils. 
Don't miss these upcoming events!

Bug Maine-ia at Maine State Museum, Augusta, ME
Bug Maine-ia will be held this year on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 from 9 am to 3 pm. Entomologists, environmental educators, foresters, and many others will be on hand to guide students and visitors through the big and tiny world of insects. Get up close and personal with some of the world's most fascinating insects at a live insect zoo and explore other displays that show the many fascinating ways that bugs affect our lives. Entomologists will also help students collect and identify insects found on the museum grounds (weather permitting).

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.

School Garden Intensive

A school garden intensive for teachers and school garden educators. Participants will receive garden lessons, Wild Blueberry Curricula, Agriculture for ME Resources and more! October 14, 2017 9:00 - 4:00 at Sebago Elementary School (283 Sebago Rd, Sebago, ME 04029 for GPS). Participants will receive 7 contact hours or .7 CEU's from the University of Maine. Register online using Eventbrite. Or you can register by mail via the registration here. Registration deadline is October 1.

August Garden Tips: 

  • Harvest! Show off your produce at Agricultural Fairs with "School Garden Grown" an promote awareness of your program.
  • Preserve herbs and veggies!
  • Sign up for a visit from MSGN and learn about IPM in your garden.
  • With your gardening group, work on your School Garden Open House Day, can be held the week of Maine harvest Lunch week, in late September. More ideas above!
  • Continue summer care of gardens
  • Harvest veggies and donate to local food pantry, needy school families or give to volunteers helping in the gardens.
  • Purchase or borrow a garden or large kitchen scale to weigh produce harvested. Keep records of what and # of lbs. of each veggie harvested. Share results at end of season with your principal, Food Service Director and School Board.
  • Think of ways to promote a stipend or paid position for a school garden “coach”.
  • Develop a Garden Volunteer Role Description. See  the Univ. of Maine Coop. Ext.’s description or go to August 2014 newsletter for a modified version.
  • Plan a field trip to an agricultural fair like the Common Ground or Cumberland County fair or a visit to a local farm in your area.
  • Once school is back in session, provide fresh produce to your cafeteria

 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.
“A garden can be a doorway into a larger universe.”
SO TRUE!! Here's a great read, recently published in The Washington Post titled "How gardening can help build healthier, happier kids". Recommended for you by our own MSGN Board member, Anna Libby. Read it
here, enjoy!
Plant Challenges

Harvest is upon us and after a summer of hard work we wish to enjoy the fruits of our labor. But wait! What's going on with those tomatoes?
Look familiar? Blossom End Rot is a common issue in tomatoes when the weather begins to cool, water uptake changes and calcium deficiency becomes more likely. Learn how to prevent this common plant challenge 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!


Sept 12th: Bug Maine-ia (Augusta)

Sept 22nd - 24th: Common Ground Fair  (Unity)

Oct 14th: School Garden Intensive (Sebago)

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

CHS/NAITC Classroom Grant – Teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade who have agriculture projects they would like to fund to help them teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies and more are eligible to apply. Fifteen $500 grants will  be awarded. The deadline for applications is Sept. 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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