May 2018 Newsletter

** Announcing the 1st EVER **
"Summer Garden Success Tour"
Recap: Maine School Garden Day
School Garden of the Month:
 ** Sanford Junior High School **

Let your GRATITUDE Grow
Meet the MSGN Treasurer
Don't Settle for DIRT

MAY Garden Tips
Grant opportunities & events

NEW Event!


Ahhh the sweet smell of SUCCESS!

Join Maine School Garden Network for the 1st ever 
Summer Garden Success Tour
Meet garden educators and experience their programs first hand. Network with other garden goers, participate in a showcase of MSGN's program offerings and learn about ways to enhance the success of your summer garden program. 

Participation for this September tour event will be limited so if you dig it and wish to stay informed as details emerge send an email HERE and let us know how to keep you informed over the summer.
Wishing you a growing success, see you in September!

Speaking of Success...

Thank you to everyone who made 2018 Maine School Garden Day a HUGE SUCCESS last month! It was a day filled with learning and opportunities and we look forward to seeing you next year. We hope you left as excited and motivated as we did to dig into this garden season. We've been collecting your valuable feedback which will be used to inspire next year's event. Feel free to send us your feedback here if you have not already HERE.

Check out some photos of the event and read an article recently featured in The Times Record. If you have any photos of 2018 Maine School Garden Day that you'd like to share, please email them to  

School Garden of the Month -
Sanford Junior High School

Sanford, Maine

It all started with a visit and a vision, now with the heart and collaboration of community and students things are growing strong at Sanford Junior High School. Although it seems a little fishy...

Diana Allen, seventh grade science teacher at Sanford Junior High School, is the champion of her school’s aquaponics program. She first began the program after visiting the Herring Gut Learning Center in Port Clyde. She loved their set up and decided she wanted something like that for her students. Allen fortunately has a very supportive and agreeable administrator who was all for her idea and they found space for it in their underutilized greenhouse. She worked with seven students to get the program up and running. The administration at Sanford Junior High sees how the program benefits students and give as much support as they can, such as time for her to work with students and some financial support, as well as allowing her to write grants for the program.

    Diana is the primary manager of the system, ordering supplies, scheduling students, overseeing all the systems and students, training students in the various jobs, and troubleshooting issues as they arise. About 65 students are involved in the program, students sign up if they’re interested and get scheduled to work during their tutorial block. These students learn how to manage the plants, fish, and mechanics of the system. Students enter and share data in a google doc and the data gets used in some of the math classes. Allen has found that one of the best takeaways for students has been an increase in their problem solving skills.

    The biggest obstacle the program has faced was when their greenhouse roof collapsed due to heavy snow. Allen wrote a grant, and received a lot of community help for rebuilding. The code enforcement officer came to meet the students that were helping and showed how the process worked, local contractors donated the cement and did the foundation for free, and vocational students from Sanford Regional Technical Center did the building. The greenhouse has now become a major hot spot on open house night!

    The aquaponics system is located in the 120 square foot greenhouse which is connected to the school right off of Allen’s classroom. The system uses bluefin tilapia and grows lettuce, basil, microgreens, and anything else the students want to try. They’ve had a lot of success with basil, swiss chard, and kale. Basil has been a huge hit, they harvest it over and over again and sell it to the staff! Allen keeps her program from stagnating by switching up the students and trying new things such as different setups and new ideas. They are starting to look into tagging their fish so they can add monitoring fish growth to their routines. At the end of the school year the fish and produce get harvested and the system is shut down for the summer. In the few years that they’ve had the system, Allen has seen student interest in the science of aquaculture increase, and has seen many students find a space where they feel successful.


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.

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.


 Willie Sawyer Grenier, MSGN Treasurer

Willie Sawyer Grenier has worked with/and for Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) since 1998, but her passion for agriculture in mainstream education is much deeper. In college she served as a 4-H leader and President of the Horseman’s Club. After graduating from UMaine with a degree in Vocational Agriculture and certification to teach Secondary Science, she taught for several years in Maine and the Maritimes before her destiny led her to study (and then teach) the art of floristry. In 1997 she discovered AITC and soon her volunteer role emerged into a part-time position. The organization has grown every year, especially with the addition of the Agricultural License Plate in 2007. Now the MAITC program is funding grants annually, writing curriculum, training pre-service and in-service teachers, and last year impacted over 200,000 Maine school children in grades Pre K – 12. She was recently promoted to President of National Agriculture in the Classroom. Willie is pleased to serve as Maine School Garden Network Treasurer and work closely with the coordinator to secure and manage funding to help the organization fulfill the overwhelming requests from schools across the state that are using a school garden project to teach across the curricula, while fostering stewardship, sustainability, good nutrition and more in the process!

To learn more about grant opportunities and agricultural curriculum resources visit Maine Agriculture in the Classroom's website.


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.

Garden Gratitude Tree - goes traveling!!

We are thankful for school gardens, and we know you are too!
Would you like to host our Garden Gratitude Tree?  Here's how it works:

  1. Sign up to display this 8'x9' mural in your school
  2. Use it to engage students, staff and community in expressing why they are thankful for your school garden.
  3. Fill the tree with colorful paper leaves representing all the reasons to be thankful.
  4. Watch it grow into something beautiful! 
  5. Share pictures with us

This tree will travel throughout Maine to help programs like yours express the impact it has on students, staff and the community. It is a beautiful opportunity to display why the garden is important to your school and to engage everyone in the opportunity to express their gratitude for their school garden.

Want to host the tree? Email us! Want to follow the tree? Keep up with us on Facebook

Don't Settle for DIRT!
So often I find myself cringing at the use of the word "DIRT". It's not uncommon to hear, in the context of big garden plans, people saying things like:

"I need about a yard of DIRT to fill that raised bed..."


"Know where I can find some good DIRT?"

Well, here's my dirt on "DIRT"...

Recently, my husband came home with a truckload of fresh "DIRT" (as he called it) for our garden. Thankful for his efforts, I (of course) repaid him with a science based lesson on why our garden deserves SOIL. What he brought home was indeed soil! :)

I've learned so much from teachers and students in my work with MSGN and I am proud to know that so many students across Maine will learn to appreciate soil and understand how to revive dirt. It's one way we can improve our Earth, one pile of dirt at a time!

Want to learn more about the difference between dirt and soil or share with a friend ;) Check out this page for more information.

Don't miss these upcoming events!

Native Plant Walk - Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
June 6th
Join Maine Audubon and Wild Seed Project’s Heather McCargo to learn about the interesting wildflowers, ferns, trees, and understory shrubs that grow in this beautiful mature woodland overlooking the salt marsh with views to the Atlantic. Pre-registration is required. More information here.

History Haywagon Ride - Wolfe's Neck Farm
June 23rd, August 25th & September 22nd
Join us for a Wagon Ride to the Past…Climb aboard our haywagon and travel through time as you hear stories of the ship captains, fishermen, farmers, teachers, and homemakers who have lived on Wolfe’s Neck over the past 250 years!  This “Wagon Ride to the Past” is a unique opportunity to learn from local historians about the history of our oceanfront farm and the surrounding countryside. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

MOFGA Common Ground County Fair
September 21st - 23rd
If you’ve ever been to the Fair, you know – and if you haven’t been, anyone who has will tell you – it's an event like no other, that brings together so many people from so many walks of life, all in the spirit of celebrating the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine To learn more click here.

May Garden Ideas:

Use last year’s map of your vegetable garden as a guide to where to plant this year’s  crops. Remember to rotate where you plant things. Once plans are made, create a new map for the current season.

*Hold a school community workday in your gardens.

*Keep a gardening journal and add entries as the season progresses. Add things like what you planted, and when, what you harvest and how much, pest issues, etc.

* Amend soil if you haven’t yet.

* Review notes and reflections from last year (what grew well, pest damage, etc. and plan accordingly.

*Continue caring for seedlings started indoors. Start cucumber, melon, squash and pumpkin seeds indoors or wait until the end of the month or early June to direct sow outdoors.

* Start hardening seedlings off several days before planting outdoors, starting with 2-3 hours a day and gradually increasing time.

* Transplant Brassica family seedlings outdoors and bend ½’ electrical conduit into hoops and cover these seedlings with row covers to protect plants from pest damage. Remove covering once plants are large enough to withstand pest damage.

*Check plant hardiness and average last frost date in your area before planting seedlings outdoors.

*When soil is ready outdoors, plant salad greens, spinach, kale, radishes, beets, and other hardy plants. Cover with row covers if nights are close to freezing.

*If you want your harvests to be timed to when school is in session, plant later in the spring (tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, winter and summer squash, etc. 

 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.


September 2018: Summer Garden Success Tour signup for details TBA

September 21st - 23rd: Common Ground County Fair


Maine Ag in the Classroom (MAITC) Grant Program - Request For Applications Available Now: Click here for more information. June 7th
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

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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