March 2019 Newsletter

~~ Register TODAY~~ 
Maine School Garden Day

NEW! MSGN Survey - Network Update
*Participate for a chance to WIN a garden!*
School Garden of the Month:
 *Captain Albert W. Stevens School*

Meet the MSGN Board
Cover Crops at Sebago Elementary

March Garden Tips
Events & Opportunities

Have you registered??

Join us for the 10th Annual
Maine School Garden Day

A full day of workshops, tours, networking and inspiration!

Whether you're  just scratching the surface or you're ready to dig into another year of gardening... this day is for you. Come surround yourself with garden educators, enthusiasts and professionals who want to help you grow with your garden and see your program thrive!

See the agenda HERE
  • Topics this year include, native seeds, seed saving, bees, garden and orchard technical support, grant tips and more!
  • Local foods lunch featured by Trenton Elementary Chef
  • CEUs and certificates awarded to educators

Early Registration $35 available until April 19th

Our friends at MOFGA are helping us manage online registration this year, we are thankful for this and the many partnerships that make MSGD a wonderful success!

For mail in registration forms click here.

Scholarships available thanks to Maine Agriculture in the Classroom.

Stay posted 0n our Facebook event page.

Have questions? Email  us today!

Maine School Garden Network Directory Update
Are you "in network"?


MSGN has embarked on a mission to "Grow the Network" which means we need to hear from you! Our mission relies on understanding WHO our network is, WHERE educational gardens are growing and WHAT we can do to help them thrive in Maine. After nearly 5 years since our last detailed survey we are digging in and getting the dirt on how things are growing. Please complete this survey to join our network directory which will be updated on our website this year. Even if you've completed a survey for us in the past, we need your participation here as well - we look forward to hearing updates. Being part of our network has its perks!
  • Connect with a network of educational gardens throughout Maine
  • Get the support you need with opportunities and resources from MSGN
  • Allow your story to impact the future of our mission
Click below to join our network!


We appreciate your time! Everyone who completes our survey by MAY 15th will be entered in a drawing to win a raised bed garden package from the following generous sponsors:
Giveaway package includes: a 3' x 8' raised bed*, soil, seeds, seed starting materials, tolls for growing and harvesting, and consultation by MSGN.

*Delivery of raised bed may be available depending on location.

School Garden of the Month -
Captain Albert Stevens School (CASS)

Belfast, Maine

Some pretty "sweet" things happening at CASS this month. Learn about the impact of forming community partnerships and their movement to reduce waste. Check it out! 

Located in the beautiful coastal city of Belfast, Maine, Captain Albert Stevens School is comprised of about 300 K-5 students. For many years, we have been committed to being a healthy and active school. Our garden has been run by 5th grade students with support from community volunteers. Currently, our school staff is actively working to make the garden easy to access for all classrooms who want to participate. This year, CASS has a FoodCorps service member, Malia Demers, and she along with many teachers and staff, are working to make the garden program more self-sustaining and expand its reach!


The summer before Malia began her service at CASS, a team of staff and community members went to the Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms to develop an action plan for the school. Viña Lindley, from the UMaine Cooperative Extension is our school’s coach. One exciting thing this team is working towards is a community meal. At the March meal, students will display their work connecting with our school garden and join hands in creating and cooking a meal for our friends and families. The meal will have a Maple Syrup theme and will highlight other local products such as Maine grains, root vegetables and dairy. Thanks to the Read ME ag program & Maine Agriculture in the classroom, nearly all our teachers will be receiving a picture book about maple sugaring.


New this year to our school is a Farm to School professional development group of about nine teachers. The hours teachers spend sharing resources, experiences and planning for the future of the garden are counted as contact hours for recertification. Goals include building six raised beds right outside the Kindergarten and 1st grade classes.


About 140 students have “Garden Class” with Malia on a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly basis. During class time, kids are planting, harvesting, and exploring the garden; and cooking, tasting and learning about food. One of the topics students have been exploring lately has been composting and decomposition. 3rd grade students started composting snack scraps in their classrooms and conducted a waste audit of the trash and compost produced in the cafeteria in collaboration with Viña Lindley. After this experience, students made posters and PSA videos, and ran a composting station at our school’s first “Zero Waste Lunch Day,” helping their peers learn how to sort their lunch leftovers into trash and “treasure” (compostable materials & recyclable resources). Another “Zero Waste Lunch Day has been planned for late February by our school’s Belfast Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (BRRRR) student group led by Tish Manning.


Many teachers integrate food and gardening topics into academic subjects and many classrooms regularly work with skilled outdoor and sustainability educators such as Hannah Raymond from Tanglewood 4H center, and Jeni Flower from the Belfast Bay watershed coalition. Currently seven classrooms are composting food scraps from snack time. Those scraps get emptied into our wooden pallet compost pile by the garden, and some classrooms have worm bins!


About once a month, Malia will do a taste test of a healthy food in the cafeteria. Often this will be a local/seasonal fruit or vegetable in a small portion so kids can give it a taste in a fun way! She will set up a whiteboard with information, jokes, and pictures or examples of the item.


This fall, we entered butternut squash, pumpkin, garlic, and heirloom bean varieties into the Common Ground Country fair exhibition hall with “school garden grown” stickers provided by the Maine School Garden Network. We received quite a few blue and red ribbons and it was a great way to celebrate and recognize the hard work of everyone who made the garden’s harvest possible!


Follow our adventures on our Facebook Page: CASS School Garden Food & Wellness
Learn more about the Zero Waste student led movement at CASS here.


Curious about the Read ME ag program from Maine Agriculture in the Classroom? Check out their website! Will your classroom be enjoying this year's book on maple syrup?


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.

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.


 Yvette Meunier, MSGN Board Member


Yvette is a native Mainer who found a passion for environmental science through Girl Scouts, environmental camps, and influential science teachers throughout her youth. She strongly believes in hands on learning and outdoor education to instill a lifelong appreciation for the natural world. She holds a BA in Geosciences and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development from the University of Southern Maine. Currently, Yvette is a Promotional Coordinator for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. She assists farmers in labor needs, sustainable farming practices, and assists beginning farmers find resources. Yvette is excited to join MSGN to inspire and build confidence in the next generation of environmental stewards and agricultural professionals.  In her free time, she enjoys overnight kayaking adventures on the Maine Island Trail, road biking to farmers’ markets, and plogging.

Thank you 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.

Grant Opportunity 

Russell Libby Agricultural Scholar Applications Open

MOFGA is once again hosting the Russell Libby Agricultural Scholar awards and applications are now being accepted. March 20 is the deadline to apply for the Russell Libby Agricultural Scholar Awards. A $1,500 scholarship is awarded each year in each of these categories: MOFGA journeyperson program participant; Maine high school senior planning to study sustainable or organic farming (preference for colleges in Maine); and an educator for funds for a field trip/classroom project/school garden or similar project. For more information see the website.
Maine Schools WANTED!

Apply today and launch your farm to school program into success!
Click HERE to learn more

Don't you just love a good experiment?

Well the students at Sebago Elementary School sure do! And Ted Bridge- Koenigsberg, their teacher, has a mind to creatively align garden work to standards and really get them digging in. Better yet, their soil is improving! Get the dirt here...
Cover Crops in School Gardens

“It looks like grass” was a very innocent statement a colleague shared with a student of mine.   The child responded, “We want that grass because it is rye and it is helping the soil”

           Cover Crops are easy to grow and take care of in a school garden.  At Sebago Elementary we have tried both legumes and grasses and both classes of cover crops work well.  We have raised beds that were built over  a very hard rocky school yard, so the soil profile is limited.   There are issues above and below the soil horizon.   Prior to using cover crops in our rotations we had to dump huge volumes of material annually so we could get plants to grow.   In terms on energy this wasn’t sustainable and we want to show students soil can be improved without huge outside inputs.  Using cover crops not only feeds the soil, it keeps it covered and keeps living roots in the soil.   Also where school gardens aren’t necessarily supplying a huge amount of food, but rather are getting kids engaged and interested in gardening and food, using the space for cover crops opens up a whole new area of educational opportunities.  

      In terms of care and management not much could be easier than growing cover crops with students.   Winter rye for example is broadcast in the fall and either turned under in the spring or crushed.   We have also cut rye at the milk stage and dried it for straw mulch.  Broadcasting seed is very easy for young children to do.  The worst thing that could happen, is it is spread unevenly.  Simply having students walk across the surface pushes the seed into contact with the soil and that takes care of planting.   Weeding the bed isn’t an issue because the cover crop covers the soil and smothers many annual weeds.   We have found our raised beds dry out like the desert, but those that are in cover crops require much less water.   Depending on the depth of soil, deep rooted legumes may not be as successful but there are many options.    Grains such as wheat, barley and oats can be sown in the fall.   They die over the winter so you don’t have to worry about how to deal with it in the springtime. Those grains sown in the spring can be left to mature and students can go through the threshing, winnowing seed saving process.    FEDCO and Johnny’s Selected Seeds are two sources of cover crop seed. Jason Lilley from the Cumberland County Extension office is a great resource for cover crop ideas, insights and management.   

Stay tuned for a follow up from Ted regarding methods for growing cover crops that meet an array of NGSS Standards, as well as how this fits into sustainable farming and gardening.   Broadcast cover crops seeds, and reap the benefits of healthier soil and students who are learning to take care of their gardens above and below the surface.    

Have an experiment, experience or story to share? We'd love to include it in our newsletter which is now received by over 1,100 subscribers!
Email us

See us at the 2019 Flower Show!
MSGN along with other members of the Plant Something at School! collaborative are thrilled to be featured in the Children's Garden this year. Check out this promotion! We'll see you at the Flower Show March 28th - 31st.

Smile for MSGN :)

Image result for amazon smile
If you shop Amazon you can now support MSGN by using Amazon Smile. The items you purchase wont cost you more, but Amazon will donate a small portion of the purchase to our organization and that supports our mission to serve all school gardens throughout Maine.
To support MSGN with future Amazon purchases please use this link:

Image result for slow food plant a seed kit

Slow Food believes biodiversity is key to a sustainable, adaptable — and delicious — future. The Plant a Seed campaign gives you the tools to get amazing flavor back on your plate. The Plant a Seed kit features six seed packets: three from the Ark of Taste, and three from Row 7. There is a limited number of free kits available for school gardens, request one here.

Upcoming Event

The Maine Nutrition Council's 2019 Annual Conference titled "Gut Nutrition? Exploring the Microbiome" will be held Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at The Point Community Center in South Portland, ME.
It will be a day filled with great speakers, exhibitors, and award winners! Our keynote speaker is Liz Lipski, Professor and Director of Academic Development/ Nutrition Programs at Maryland University of Integrative Health. The conference will also include a plenary session by Janice Giddens who currently serves as the Director of Health and Wellness Partnerships at the National Dairy Council. There will be great breakout sessions to choose from as well!
Visit the website for more information and to register!

March Garden Ideas:

  • Order seeds, tools, etc. early in month if haven’t done yet. If buying seedlings, you have until May/early June.
  • Grow micro-greens in the classroom (peas, arugula, mesculin mix lettuces, etc.) Chek out How to Grow Micro-greens Indoors
  • Enjoy a Homegrown micro-green salad recipe
  • Learn food safety tips about microgreens here.
  • Inventory and purchase seed starting materials, if starting things from seed. This includes: grow (shop) lights and bulbs, timers, ext. cords, Shooks, chains, starter mix, plastic markers for labeling, starter trays and covers, plant sprayers and small watering cans.
  • Continue planting hardy greens, radishes, kale, broccoli, etc. in the hoop house. Cover at night with remay or other row covers, if temps dip to freezing, especially at night.
  • Contact MSGN for a visit
  • Sign up to host the "Gratitude Tree"
  • Register for MSGD 2019
  • Participate in MSGN Survey for a chance to win a raised bed garden!

 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:  March 20th, April 24th
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 Flower Show: March 28th - 31st
MOFGA Seed Swap & Scion Exchange - March 31st
Maine Nutrition Council Conference - April 3rd
2019 Maine School Garden Day - April 27th
New England Farm to Institute Summit - April 2nd -4th
MAITC's Summer Teacher's Institute - July 29th - Aug 2nd
Maine Farm to School Conference - Oct 4th
View MOFGA's events calendar here.


MAITC Grants Program 2019 -
NEW Opportunities!
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
MOFGA's Russel Libby Agricultural Scholar Awards - 3 prizes $1,500 March 20th

Seattle Seed Company Organic Seed Fundraiser

KidsGardening Grants - Carton2Garden due March 25th 
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!
Action for Healthy Kids - grants for physical activity and healthy eating - available until April 5th

A HUGE thank you to our SPONSORS!

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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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