October 2018 Newsletter

RSVP TODAY! MSGN Annual Meeting
See us in Edible Maine Magazine

School Garden of the Month:
 ** Jordan Small Middle School **

End of Farm to School Month
Meet the MSGN Board
We are Team Building

October Garden Tips


2018 Annual Meeting
Join us at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens!
Friday, October 26th 3-7pm


We're thrilled to invite you to this year's Annual Meeting. MSGN is in the 10th consecutive year of connecting and serving school gardens in the state, and we're celebrating in style. Our friends at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are hosting our event in their brand new education center. Space will be limited, please RSVP by Oct 20th.


Here's a peek at the general agenda:
  • 3pm - 5pm: Tour the gardens at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens!
  • 5pm - 6pm: Keynote, business meeting and updates from MSGN
  • 6pm - 7pm: Potluck Dinner - bringing a dish to share is optional, please come and enjoy some seasonal soups!
"If a Plant Designed a Building"
Learn more
about our unique location at CMBG, the Bosarge Family Education Center


RSVP today!


Maine School Garden Network was proudly featured in...


Eat it up, read the full article HERE!

School Garden of the Month -
Jordan Small Middle School

Raymond, Maine

Where the Principal leads the program, emphasizing the importance of curriculum connections and community engagement. 

Jordan Small Middle School (JSMS) is located in Raymond and is part of the Windham/Raymond RSU #14. The student body is around 180 5th-8th graders. The gardens were started by Special Education teacher Dennis Woodruff through a grant. He had a Life Skills class of 4-8 students and he wanted to give them hands-on experiences and skills in science, math and socialization. The gardens and programming have been changing over recent years. Woodruff retired and the Life Skills program moved off campus. Principal Randy Crockett took over as the leader of the gardening team. He has a passion for the outdoors and experience in both gardening and working in and running apple orchards. His core beliefs are that to have an ongoing and sustainable gardening program it must be embedded in the curriculum, be a manageable size and involve multiple people, not just from the school but also parent and community volunteers and local businesses. 5th grade science teacher, Lynn Estey has worked to integrate gardening into her science curriculum. Currently all 5th graders (around 45-50 students) are regularly involved, along with some Special Education students.
     The purpose of having school gardens at JSMS is to provide an outdoor, as well as indoor learning environment where kids authentically experience science and scientific inquiry, practice their math skills, learn problem solving skills, etc. Another purpose is to start, grow and harvest healthy food to serve in the school’s cafeteria. Food Service Coordinator Ryan Roderick and District Chef Samantha (Sam) Cowens-Gasbarro help with planning what should be grown and provide cooking projects as well. Currently there are around 80 tomato plants growing both inside the greenhouse and outdoors. The plan is to harvest and process all of the tomatoes and freeze them to use throughout the school year. Also growing are peppers, broccoli, onions, Swiss chard, kale and a couple of carrots. Crockett said they didn’t germinate well at all! Later this month students will plant salad greens in the greenhouse and will continue harvesting them for lunches through Thanksgiving. Crockett said they discovered if they cut them back but not pull them out in late November, the greens will start re-growing in the early spring.
    Currently, JSMS’s gardens consist of a 20’ X 70’ in-ground garden space. A 24’ X 30’ greenhouse and several perennial beds. With the help of a Maine Agriculture in the Classroom grant that Cowens-Gasbarro wrote, the school was able to pipe water under the parking lot between the water source and gardens on the other side of it. Watering has been so much easier ever since! The greenhouse currently houses tomatoes and some peppers. How it’s used and methods to maximize growing healthy plants has been evolving. Woodruff originally grew tomatoes in buckets and trellised them to the greenhouse structure. Crockett said they’ve found this method has harbored fungi and is being phased out. It has proven to be a good scientific inquiry project to hypothesize, observe, compare and contrast the health and productivity of bucket grown vs. tomatoes grown in one of the two raised beds in the greenhouse. Students did just that this summer during a three week program, as well as weed, water and learn some carpentry skills. Years ago, solar panels were donated to the school and Applied Technology teacher, Mark Chase put them up. He wanted to teach students about passive and active solar power but the results have been mixed and using them effectively is still a work in progress.
     The gardening team, in addition to Crockett, includes Educational Technician, John Keller, 5th grade Science Teacher, Lynne Estey, Lori Fletcher, O.T., and Master Gardener Sheila Frappier, with the help of Roderick and Cowens-Gasbarro in Food service. Crockett said that having the principal as team leader and head cheerleader has advantages but wonders if having someone else lead the organization and planning might be better. Crockett believes summer maintenance has worked pretty well recently due to good communication by team members, the summer program and some dedicated staff and community volunteers. Support from the Paris Farmer’s Union has been beneficial as well as donated compost by the Swett family of Raymond and seedlings from a nursery in Windham.  
  Like many school gardens, those at JSMS have had some obstacles over the years. The plastic on the greenhouse has blown off, the original garden champion retired, water wasn’t easily accessed and perennial beds were too large to maintain (they were reduced in size and look lovely!) Currently, garden concerns involve weed management and watering, controlling summer heat in the greenhouse and managing the size of the veggie garden. Going forward Crockett hopes the garden team can start an after-school garden club, build more raised beds in the greenhouse to replace the buckets and continue producing veggies that can be used in the cafeteria.
To keep up with what's growing, and cooking in their district follow Windham Raymond School Nutrition Program on Facebook.

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?
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.


Rebecca Dugan, MSGN Board Member
Rebecca is the Children’s Programs Coordinator at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, which means she gets to dig in the dirt and cook with kids quite often.  She was born and raised in the Garden State but came to Maine for college and never left!  Rebecca is happiest when she is outside, and she loves to share her excitement about growing food and taking care of the environment with all her favorite kiddos. We are so lucky to have her on our team!
To learn more about programs at St. Mary's including their children's garden and cooking programs, visit their 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.

Gather up resources to engage students!
Everyone can celebrate National Farm to School Month! The National Farm to School Network has developed resources and activities to promote Farm to School Month in schools, early care and education settings, communities and media outlets. Make the most of the rest of this month. Celebrate!

Find more resources here. Share your story with us today at

October Garden Ideas:

  • Harvest fall crops like pumpkins, winter squash, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, Brussel Sprouts (taste best after a frost or two), beets, lettuce and spinach
  •  Plant spring flower bulbs and new perennials
  • Order hardy veggie seeds at beginning of month and plant by around the middle of the month in your hoop or greenhouse.
  • Divide perennial flowers (check on whether the plants prefers fall or spring divisions.
  • Mulch new perennials and divided plants, as well as new bulb plantings.
  • Plant garlic.
  • Clean-up garden beds, composting non diseased plant material. Dispose diseased material.
  • If you have a compost 2-3 bin system, turn the compost, one bin to another.
  • Cover raised beds with straw or  rinsed seaweed unless a cover crop or winter crop has been planted.
  • Plan a cooking project using pumpkins, carrots, squash, etc. The first three veggies do well in muffins, soups, roasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Conduct a pumpkin weighing contest with your class or whole school. The winner gets the pumpkin.

 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.
Inspire Wonder!
Recommended Reading

The Sense of Wonder

"It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he's not ready to assimilate." - Rachel Carson

As educators, remembering to cater to the natural curiosity of children and to inspire wonder about the world around them is as important if not more than providing the facts and information. "The Sense of Wonder" is a quick but engaging read that serves as a reminder of this value and a motivation to promote the freedom to explore and engage kids in gardening and nature. Put your feet up and enjoy,
I hope you find it WONDERful!
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: Oct 26th Annual Meeting, Nov 28th, Dec 26th
Email us today at


October 26: MSGN Annual Meeting at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - RSVP !!!
Spring 2019: Maine School Garden Day - stay tuned!
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
SeedMoney - Applications due Nov 12th

Seattle Seed Company Organic Seed Fundraiser

KidsGardening Grants - Budding Botanist due Nov 19th, Youth Garden Grant due Dec 17th, 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!

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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