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April 2017 Newsletter





 
 
Last chance for the GIVEAWAY!
Coming soon! Maine School Garden Day
Meet School Garden of the Month:
           ** Edna Drinkwater **
Celebrate Earth Day - 5 Garden Ideas
Down to Earth with April Garden Tips
Plant Something Maine
Check out newsletter ideas shared with us
Apply for grants!

 

 
 

Learn more below!
Win seeds for your school garden!
Enter our "Most Important" Giveaway
 

We want to know what’s most important to the success of your school garden each month of the year!  We also want to giveaway some cool stuff donated by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Enter here for a chance to win! Your feedback is important; it will help us build the Garden Coach Manual we are currently constructing as a resource for school garden programs across the State.

 
 
Don't miss these Featured Events
 


Happening next month! Click here to register. Check out the event on Facebook.

Northeast Farm to School Institute
The Northeast Farm to School Institute is a unique year-long professional learning opportunity for twelve school teams from New England and New York. Our year-long Institute kicks off with a Summer Retreat held at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT from June 27-29, 2017. Learn more here. 
Contact Renee Page from Maine Farm to School if you have any questions.

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. 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.

School Garden of the Month -
Edna Drinkwater Elementary School

 

In the little town of Northport, tucked away off route 1 is a beautiful new school with an amazing new geodesic dome greenhouse! The Edna Drinkwater Elementary School has a Garden Club of 14 enthusiastic students from grades K – 5. Kent Harlow, of Food Corps, alongside John VanDis, a Science teacher, works to promote the school’s gardening program. From the quiet road, a colorful garden sign is surrounded by several raised beds. This year, there are big plans for the new greenhouse that the community pulled together to afford and build last October. Inside are ergonomic height raised beds that border the structure making learning easy and fun. There’s even a lined tank that will be used for aquaculture projects. The Maine School Garden Network had the opportunity to meet and learn with the garden club last month, and while it was too early to be growing anything we did enjoy playing in the dirt! With a garden club available to all grades, activities are inviting and fun and “it’s great to see the older kids helping the younger ones learn and discover”, says Kent. Aside from leading the most amazing “imaginary obstacle course”, Kent lead the team of students through a soil sample experiment and while that settled they made hummus using fresh garlic. While snacking on their hummus with carrots, (or trying it for the first time) students could be heard saying “food is important”. At the end of the day, the message was clear, “You have tried it, and that’s what’s important!” because just like trying new foods, gardening is all about the experience!  It was a fun day at Edna Drinkwater Elementary School, with many more to come for the students as they get growing and enjoying their community built greenhouse. Congrats Edna Drinkwater Elementary School, you’re our School Garden of the Month!


Keep up with what's happening at their school on Facebook.

Happy Earth Day from MSGN!

The 1st Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 as a result of growing concern for environmental issues. Today we have many new and growing concerns. Connecting students with their environment is a great way to promote awareness and school gardens can provide that opportunity! Here are 5 ideas for celebrating Earth Day and improving your School Garden.
 

  1. Invite & Connect! Earth Day is a fantastic opportunity for getting students, staff and administrators excited about the garden. Gaining support and enthusiasm for your garden can help make your program a success. Students can make and send invitations to school and community members to celebrate Earth Day in the garden. If the weather doesn’t allow, then at least plan a time and location to meet and talk about your plans for the garden. You may be surprised who shows up and wants to get involved!
  2. Plant a tree! Planting a tree on Earth Day is quite popular and symbolic. Think about where you could plant a shade tree that would help cool an indoor space and save energy. Or what about a location that could provide shade for a meeting spot, outdoor learning space or cool down spot when working nearby in the garden? What about a fruit tree for future healthy snacks? Need help with this? Visit our friends at ReTreeUS.
  3. Conserve water! Think about your plans for watering this upcoming garden season. How could you conserve water and still keep plants happy? When and how often do you water? Where does your water come from? What about rainwater collection? Could you use a “companion” plant or ground cover to reduce evaporation?
  4. Plan to compost! Where do your organic food scraps go? Why not build a bin and start collecting them for compost? Not only could it keep this material out of the dumpster but the nutrients could be food for your garden. Already have a compost bin at your school? That’s great! Use Earth Day as an opportunity to remind everyone how they can help keep it growing! Click here for more info on composting from the Soil & Water Conservation District in Somerset County.
  5. Make friends with bugs! YES… bugs! Planting bee friendly plants in your garden is a great way to support pollinators. But have you also thought about ways to make your garden even more inviting? Bees aren’t the only beneficial insects in your garden. Think about using ladybugs, parasitic wasps and nematodes to support pest management in your garden. Not only is it an alternative to pesticides, but it makes it safer and more fun too! Want to learn more about beneficial insects and biological controls visit No More Pests! here.

Remember, the garden is a fantastic place to connect your school and community to the environment. Use Earth Day as an invitation to dig into some great projects and let MSGN know how we can help!

April Garden Ideas:


Post a schedule indicating who will be in charge of checking the seeds, watering, checking grow lights. Identify a "Garden Coach".

 

Take a soil test if you haven’t in past two years. Test results will provide recommendations for adding soil amendments. Learn more and request a kit here.

 

Remove winter plant material from gardens, including mulch around garlic. Sidedress with fertilizer once garlic shoots emerge.

 

Bare-root fruit trees, brambles, strawberries, and asparagus plants should be planted as soon as possible.

 

Sow peas as soon as your beds are ready to plant.

 

Keep an eye on forsythia. It’s blooms are a great indicator of when to plant potatoes and onions.

 

Start tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings.

Plan ahead for showing off your produce at Common Ground Fair Exhibition Hall. September is closer than you think so start planning for that giant pumpkin or those fancy beans or sunflowers! 


Finish up any pruning that was not completed in March.

Apply for a Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Education grant, due June 8th. Buy an Ag in Classroom license plate when you register your vehicle to help fund this grant program!

 

Register here to attend workshops at Maine School Garden Day. Check out the event on Facebook.

 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.

Plant Something Maine
Plant Something is a grassroots, nationally established campaign designed to increase the public’s support of local growers, nurseries, garden centers, and landscapers through awareness of the benefits of planting specialty crops for the landscape and garden. Plant Something Maine is a program of The Maine Landscape & Nursery Association (MELNA). If you recently attended the Maine Flower Show then you got to experience the essence of this organization. But if you’d like to learn more, then connect with them on Facebook, visit their website, or subscribe to their newsletter.
 
Network Newsletter Ideas

We love hearing from you! Here is some info we wish to pass along, enjoy!

Hudson Valley Seed Company featured some great information in their recent mailing. Get to know 5 beneficial insects here.


Know some kiddos in grades 3-12 who are jazzed about soil? Check it out--the Maine Mineral Museum in Bethel is seeking entries for the New England Mineral Conference Student Poster Contest. More info here.  


 

IDEAS FOR THE 
NEWSLETTER?


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!

UPCOMING EVENTS

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 our EVENTS CALENDAR here.

View MOFGA's events calendar here.

GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Maine Ag in the Classroom (MAITC) Grant Program - Request For Applications Available Now: Click here for more information. June 8th
 
LOCAL GRANTS
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

NATIONAL GRANTS
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 www.msgn.org/grants

A HUGE thank you to our SPONSORS!










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