January 2019 Newsletter

~~ Save the Date 4/27~~ 
Maine School Garden Day
WANTED: Student Garden ART!!
Help us "Grow the Network"

School Garden of the Month:
 ** Thomaston Grammar School **

Bringing Farming "Into Orbit"
Meet the MSGN Board

January Garden Tips
Events & Opportunities


Join us for the 10th Annual

Maine School Garden Day


More details and registration to come! 


We just know you're going to LOVE IT!!

 Trenton Elementary School
An incredibly inspiring learning environment where strong connections are cultivated among their classrooms, cafeteria and their community! As a past participant in the Vermont Feed's Farm to School Institute in Shelburne Vermont and their relationships to local farms and College of the Atlantic they have continued to grow. A perfect location to gather for MSGD 2019 as we will explore their gardens, greenhouse, outdoor classrooms and trails. We can 't wait to spotlight their program and gather with all of you!

You're sure to be inspired!

Have topics you'd like included in the program this year?

Please share your ideas,
email us today!


WANTED: Student Garden Art!

MSGN will be featured in the children's garden at the 2019 Maine Flower Show in March! Over 20,000 people visit the show in Portland and we are excited to showcase common themes we see in school gardens. Some of the most special elements and expressions are the art projects students create to beautify the garden. Do you have garden art you'd like to share?? We are looking for... 
  • small garden signs/ plant labels
  • Unique decor
  • Stepping stones
  • painted rocks or small items
We want to use this unique opportunity to display your creative art projects. Please contact us to describe what art pieces you might be willing to lend for this display.     
Contact us today!   

Help us grow! Host a Resource Rally in 2019

MSGN is excited about the new year and our mission to "Growing the Network". The part we are most excited about... getting to know you! 2019 is a year for digging into the programs we serve and understanding the challenges and resources associated with your garden programs throughout Maine. We want to grow with you! So,we are planning a series of "Resource Rallies", which are opportunities to gather locally with garden educators and leaders where we will:
  • Offer workshops and information and resources related to our programs and from industry partners
  • Help to build local networks
  • Hone in on regional garden resources
  • Discuss common challenges
  • Survey program needs and development opportunities
Throughout the gardening season we will be facilitating these events throughout Maine and we are currently looking for host sites. Are you interested in gathering like-minded garden folks and helping us "Grow the Network"? If so we would love to talk about hosting with you.

Please contact us today!   

We are thankful for the support for these Resource Rallies provided by

School Garden of the Month -
TGS Common Ground Garden

Thomaston, Maine

So much to celebrate in a garden that has been using hard work and creativity to grow "much more than perennials and produce" over the past 10 years.  Way to go TGS! 

Happy New Year! The TGS Common Ground Garden & Outdoor Classroom celebrates its 10th year in 2019!
This school garden began as an Expeditionary Learning project in the fall of 2009.  Three fifth grade teachers and a guidance counselor (who also happened be a Master Gardener) were the inaugural gardening team. MSAD #50 (now RSU #13) granted this team permission to repurpose an abandon high school ropes course area into a garden space for 5th graders.  The work of clearing debris, designing the space, and locating resources began on the first days of school in 2009. Many of these beginning gardeners will be graduating from college this spring!
The transformation of the area from “eyesore” to “spectacular” has been an observable journey for many. The garden is located between two district schools, adjacent to sports fields. It is very much visible to students, teachers, athletes, parents and community members passing by. This optimal location helps to make the garden a special place. “It takes a village” and the village has grown to appreciate, support, and protect the garden.
The first growing spaces were two raised beds made from logs that were cut on school ground and skidded to the garden by a pair of local draft horses. Next, composting bins were built from pallets rescued from the dump. The initial sign for the garden was painted on the back of a warped ping pong table. Reduce, reuse, and repurpose has been an ongoing theme in the TGS garden since its inception.
Fifth grade students at Thomaston Grammar School are the gardeners. Over the years, much of the grade level curriculum and standards have been met through garden related lessons. This has required creative thought and continued dedication by fifth grade staff as well as ongoing administrative support. Students have used the garden to experience authentic learning in science, ELA, math, social studies, health, art, music and PE. Furthermore, the social/emotional lessons that happen in the garden are often unplanned and exceptionally meaningful. The garden grows much more than perennials and produce!
Each spring fifth grade classrooms transform into the Common Ground Garden Seed Company. This is the main funding source for the garden. Kids learn about job applications and interviews, profit margins, goal setting, sound business techniques, quality control, advertising, and more! Students design the seed packets, assembly and fill them with bulk seed, attend sales training, and finally begin selling. The Common Ground Garden Seed Company opens and closes before planting season as the company “employees” must transition into gardeners.
The TGS Common Ground Garden & Outdoor Classroom currently boasts 11 cedar raised beds, 3 perennial rock gardens, 2 repurposed truck tire planters, a succulent tower garden, a welcome garden, apple trees, blackberry bushes, birdhouses and feeders, composting bins, picnic tables, a rainwater collection roof and stage, and a garden shed. Students grow lettuce, spinach, radishes, peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, potatoes, eggplant, carrots, beets, garlic, onions and a variety of perennials.  One raised bed yields herbs such as chives, basil, oregano, and mint. At the end of the school year, kids enjoy a salad of early produce. Fifth grade families may apply to be “garden keepers” over the summer months. Staff choose two families and issue the keys at the 5th grade end of year assembly. The garden becomes theirs until school starts again in the fall. These families mow, weed, water, and enjoy or donate the summer’s harvest. The majority of the root vegetables are left for the incoming fifth grade class. The school year begins with a fall harvest and kids use the food to cook in their classroom kitchen. Salsa, pasta sauce, zucchini breads, and roasted vegetables are common creations in the fall.
An event will be planned in 2019 to commemorate the garden’s 10th birthday! Visit the garden’s Facebook page to stay informed.

MSGN wishes to congratulate Lynn Snow, on being awarded MAITC's Teacher of the Year for 2019. Read more about Lynn's work at TGS here.

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.

Out of this world!

Galactic Gladiators Bring Farming “Into Orbit” at Albert S. Hall School


This fall a team of ten fifth grade students from the Albert S Hall School in Waterville has been learning about farming in space. They are members of the Lego Robotics team at the school and used what they learned about growing food in space for their presentation in the FIRST Lego League Western Maine Qualifier. Each year students in the statewide Lego League design and program robots to complete tasks as well as research a real world problem. This year the theme, “Into Orbit,” was about long term space travel. After a visit to our school’s hydroponic grow tower with the school’s FoodCorps AmeriCorps service member, the Gladiators decided they wanted to research how to supply food for people colonizing Mars.


With their topic decided, they dove into research. The team realized they needed to know how much food they would need to travel to Mars and how much it costs to send food to space. They learned that it takes almost a year to travel to Mars and that the price of sending one pound of food to space is $10,000. With that in mind, they decided to grow their own food because it would be way too expensive to send all the food they would need! In their research, they discovered that Mars’s soil and atmosphere won’t provide plants the nutrients and resources they need to grow, so the team decided they would grow inside their spaceship in a grow tower similar to the one in our school. This would also provide oxygen for the Mars colonists and help filter their air. Thank you, plants!


As they researched, the Gladiators came up with many questions: What would they do about pollination? Where would they get nutrients for the plants? Time to call in some experts! Two representatives from Backyard Farms in Madison came to present to the team about growing hydroponic tomatoes in greenhouses. The Gladiators were able to ask their questions and also share their research with our friends from Backyard Farms, who were impressed with the design the team had come up with.


The team advanced from the November 17th competition in Jay to the state competition which took place on December 8th.
Check out the result of their research and engineering skills!



Have an interesting project that you'd like to share? Email us at

Pleased to Meet You!

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


 Pam Lanz, MSGN Board Member

My love of gardening began back in the 1970’s while living in rural Vermont and has grown steadily through the years. When my husband and I moved to Maine in 1987, we immediately started vegetable and flower gardens at our new house. Word got out that I loved gardening at
the school where I worked as a Guidance Counselor. When the building was renovated in 1998-99, the principal asked if I’d put in some flower beds to brighten up the front of the building. When I said yes, she handed mea $300.00 Walmart Grant application and that was the beginning of the school gardening program at Manchester School. Twenty years later, we have three flower gardens, nine raised beds, a small fruit tree orchard, a hoophouse, garden shed and composting system. The students have been involved in all aspects of the gardens.  Over the years, I’ve found convincingly that the students get so much out of learning science in a
hands-on way,  having to problem solve and cooperate with their peers, while also learning the invaluable skills of growing and harvesting their own food and learning how to be responsible stewards of the land.

After retiring from my counseling job in 2013, I decided to apply for the Master Gardener Program in Cumberland County, something I’d always wanted to do. The program gave me extended knowledge and skills that I continue to use as the volunteer co-leader of the Manchester Gardens for Learning. In 2014 I joined the Maine School Garden Network Board because of my deep belief in the value school gardens have for students, staff and families. I also bring to the table direct knowledge and experience with the obstacles and challenges facing educators who support and want to be involved with them.

Thank you Pam for all you do to support garden education and our team at MSGN!  

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.

We're excited to share a recipe using Icelandic Kelp Blend (IKB) Powder from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables! learn more about the benefits of IKB


URI Cooperative Extension is delighted to announce our annual URI Free Seed Program (#URIFreeSeeds) is back! This year, we have a whopping 440,000 seed packets to give away! Vegetable, flower and herb seed packets are available to nonprofits (e.g. schools, libraries, community and youth groups, 4-H clubs, community gardens, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops) and individuals (e.g. farmers, in-home service providers) throughout the continental United States!
Apply by January 19th!

Share Your Experience

An exciting new initiative is being launched by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in partnership with Maine Environmental Education Association: The Census of Community-Based Environmental Learning in Maine.
They are interested in learning how schools and organizations (including nonprofits, afterschool programs, land trusts, libraries, etc.) across Maine are educating K-12 youth about the environment while also connecting them to their communities. With this information, they will be able to gain a better understanding of the landscape of Community-Based Environmental Learning across the state of Maine in order to move the field forward and support capacity building; provide needed resources, including professional development, for schools and organizations; and ensure equitable access for all youth across the state. 

Please share your experience in these areas with them so we can make sure that all of Maine is represented. We know that many teachers and educators working with school gardens are doing a lot of great work connecting K-12 youth learning to the environment and their communities and want to make sure they know about this Census!
All census participants will be entered into a raffle to win great prizes including gift cards and scholarships to the 2019 MEEA conference. And some projects may even be highlighted in a “Case Study” report of programs in Maine.  
The census link is:
For more information about the project please visit 

January Garden Ideas:

  • Finish planning your garden design and rotation of crops. Planting vegetables in the same place repeatedly will attract pest and disease infestations, and diminish soil quality. Avoid planting crops in the same place for 3-5 years. Kids Gardening is one of many free garden planning tools available online to help you design and maintain your garden. Graph paper works well, too! Consider including flowers and herbs to attract beneficial insects to your garden. Perennials such as fruit trees, fall bearing raspberries, asparagus and rhubarb are great additions as their maintenance and harvest align with the academic year. 
  • Share your final garden design with MSGN to make it available to schools throughout Maine!
  • Make a list of seeds, tools and supplies that need to be purchased.
  • Make a planting schedule. Visit for resources.
  • Order seeds. Maine based companies are:
  • Make a harvest schedule based on planting schedule and days to maturity of your selected crop varieties.
  • Plan winter activities such as building a seedling stand, starting a compost or vermiculture program, and growing microgreens. Visit for resources and for curriculum.
  • Contact MSGN for a visit!
  • Sign up to host the "Gratitude Tree"
  • Keep an eye out for MSGD registration!

 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.
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: Jan 23rd, Feb 27th
Meetings are held in Augusta, inquire about remote connections.
We also welcome support for special projects via committees like fundraising, event planning, technical support and more. Want more information about current projects at MSGN? We'd love to work with you!
Email us today at


School Garden Coach Manual 
A collaborative collection of information resources and perspectives in a "life changing" manual proudly developed by MSGN for you!  


2019 Maine Agricultural Tradeshow: Jan 15th - 17th
2019 Maine Flower Show: March 28th - 31st
2019 Maine School Garden Day - April 27th
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
NEW Casco Bay Community Grants - January 22nd

Seattle Seed Company Organic Seed Fundraiser

KidsGardening Grants - Carton2Garden due March 25th, NEW Tower Garden Giveaway 
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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