March 2018 Newsletter

Register TODAY!

Garden Gratitude Tree
Meet MSGN Vice Chairperson
School Garden of the Month:
 ** Revisiting: Albert S. Hall **

What's Bugging Your Garden?
March Garden Tips
Events & opportunities



A FUN filled day of workshops and networking for School Garden enthusiasts and educators will be hosted by Maine School Garden Network (MSGN) and Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC). Whether your dreaming of starting an educational garden or working to develop an existing program... this day is for you!


See the full agenda and session descriptions HERE.

All participants will receive Certificates for contact hours or CEU’s. The cost for the day is $30 ($40 after April 20) and includes local foods lunch. Pre-registration is required to claim your spot!

For more information:

  • Register online here.

  • To register by mail, download a copy of the registration form here.

  • Stay connected leading up to the event via Facebook here.

  • Scholarships are available through MAITC.

Please email for more information.
We look forward to seeing you there! 

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

Last week we displayed the Garden Gratitude Tree and connected with thousands of garden enthusiasts at the Maine Flower Show. This opportunity was made possible by the PlantSomething! School Garden Education Collaboration - read more about that below.

Now, 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

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.


 Richard Hodges, MSGN  Vice Chairperson

Richard is the Founder and Program Manager of ReTreeUS, a Maine-based program that establishes educational orchards in school, “growing trees of fruit and seeds of thought” He is a Maine native who has also lived in Vermont and California. He has decades of experience as an outdoor educator, farmer and arborist. When Richard isn’t writing grants or working in orchards and gardens he is likely to be surfing or xc skiing. Richard feels passionately about educating younger generations about environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture; “a brighter future starts with the youth and the soil”. Those who know him often think of kale when his name is mentioned


Also... if you see this new "ReTreeUS Mobile" driving around be sure to wave! It'll be busy delivering orchard opportunities to schools throughout Maine - yours maybe!?

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.

School Garden of the Month -
*REVISITING* Albert S. Hall

Waterville, Maine

In the city of Waterville, something beautiful continues to grow! One of the most inspiring examples of how dedication, resourcefulness and a commitment to students and community can lead to 100% school participation and year round involvement - the garden program at Albert S. Hall School!

Since our last feature in December of 2016, the garden has transformed and program has flourished with new and creative ways to keep students engaged in healthy eating and garden education. The program is lead by Mary Dunn, a 5th grade teacher and Emily Dufford their FoodCorps Service Member – a duo with a contagious enthusiasm for their students and program. (For this reason, I have been known to refer to them as School Garden Celebrities ;) )

Out on the blacktop, with help from FoodCorps members and the community, they have transformed their garden into a peaceful and creative space filled with trellises, raised beds, planting barrels, benches, a compost bin and a new greenhouse. It is a beautifully creative and unexpected space which grows tomatoes, corn, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, garlic, lettuce, spinach, herbs, rice (YES RICE - more about this later), and flowers. The produce is used in the cafeteria and for educational programming and the occasional snacking from students on the nearby playground. The garden space layout is open to student experiences and play, students love to use the bench, and play hide and seek in between the beds. Since the school is almost entirely surrounded by pavement, the garden also helps keep the area cooler.

The garden is primarily used by the after school Sprout Scouts members and 8 classrooms have classroom gardens/grow labs that they plant, tend, and harvest from. All classrooms participate somehow in the garden, whether it's reading outside, helping plant and tend the garden, or harvesting and eating produce! Schoolwide and year round garden education and healthy eating is facilitated inside with an aeroponic grow tower, two grow labs, and 8 classroom grow labs/classroom gardens. Throughout the summer, family and community volunteers tend the garden and are able to take produce home as a reward for their dedication.
The greatest challenge for their program is funding and engaging involvement of more teachers to care for the garden - common themes for school gardens with busy teachers and tight budgets. At Albert S. Hall, they derive support from the community, FoodCorps and maximize funding opportunities with organizations such as SeedMoney. It is no secret that what Albert S. Hall lacks in resources it more than makes up for in heart!

Because of their inspiring work, they were chosen to participate in 2017 as one of 12 New England schools in a year-long educational development opportunity with Farm to School Institute and visit Shelburne Farms in Vermont. Read more about that here. Additionally, they have taken on new challenges and opportunities such as successfully growing rice in the middle of the city and other award winning vegetables entered in the School Garden Grown Program at several agricultural fairs. The rice won second place last year at Common Ground Fair for the Grain Restoration category – how cool! Once again proving that with heart and dedication you can grow anything at Albert S. Hall School!

To keep up with their program, follow them on Facebook – you’re sure to be inspired!
Want to learn more about how to grow rice at your school and the School Garden Grown Program? Come hear Mary’s talk and gather information from Wild Folk Farms and MSGN at Maine School Garden Day.  

WANTED 2018 School Garden of the Month!
 Please email us and let us know that you would like to be one of our School Gardens of the Month.

Plant Something Educational Collaborative

The Maine School Garden Network along with Maine Agriculture in the Classroom and ReTreeUS have embarked on a collaboration with Plant Something! Plant Maine! to enhance outreach of garden education resources to youth and communities throughout Maine. This has lead to the recent opportunity to participate and connect with thousands of people at The Maine Flower Show and to explore the idea of a mobile garden classroom. You will learn more about the upcoming developments of this collaboration and provide your input on the concept of a mobile unit at Maine School Garden Day. Read more about the collaboration in a recent publication here.

What's Bugging Your Garden?

Probably not much right now...
But it is never too early to prepare! At Weatherbee School in Hampden we recently worked with students to prepare for the inevitable insect endeavors ahead. MSGN was invited to participate in the Maine Day, an annual celebration of different types of work and services throughout Maine. We were delighted to teach 3rd - 5th graders about aphids and their natural enemies - they got to see live insects in action too! Yes, we brought the bugs, magnifiers and other goodies that go with our Garden Health Engagement Program.

Key takeaways by the students included:

  • The importance of identifying insects and understanding their role in the garden
  • Not all insects are pests, some are guests!
  • Beneficial insects can be parasites and host feeders (not just pollinators)
  • A LOT is happening in the garden and we should take time to observe!

Our Garden Health Engagement Program is  a great way to connect students to the garden even in the winter and allows you see things from a "bug's eye view". Students from all grades are sure to learn and enjoy a tailored visit from MSGN. 

Want us to come talk about "What's Bugging Your Garden"?
Email us!

Special thanks to these sponsors for supporting IPM education through our Garden Health Engagement Program:

Sponsor Shout Out!
Many thanks to our generous sponsor Johnny's Selected Seeds, who is going above and beyond to make Maine School Garden Day a success and to provide learning opportunities and resources to garden educators who attend. Thanks to their Community Outreach Team participants at Maine School Garden Day will have the opportunity to win this garden bucket with tools and seeds valued at $94! In addition they will be able to acquire seeds to support pollinators in their gardens and gear up for the School Garden Grown Program. A tour of their seed packing facility and updates on what's happening at Johnny's will be offered after a fun day of workshops. We are so thankful for their partnership and continued support!

 See you at Maine School Garden Day!
Don't miss these upcoming events!

MOFGA Grow Your Own Organic Garden
April 4th 6-9pm

Each year MOFGA sponsors this statewide educational event at over 30 different locations in Maine. Presenters are seasoned MOFGA farmers and gardeners. Classes run from 6 to 9 p.m. The workshops are open to the public and to people of all gardening skill and experience levels. They are designed to provide folks with essential skills and knowledge needed to make a transition from conventional to organic gardening. The workshop is offered in partnership with Maine's Adult & Community Education program and community sponsors. To learn more and find a local location click here.

2018 Nature Based Education Institute at University of Maine Farmington
May 18th - 20th

UMF is pleased to announce its third annual Nature Based Education Institute, an innovative professional development opportunity for educators and administrators interested in implementing or expanding upon nature-based programming in their classrooms. Learn more about the sessions offered and how to register here.

March Garden Tips: 

  • Register for Maine School Garden Day!
  • Sign up to host The Gratitude Tree
  • 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.) See: How to Grow Micro-greens Indoors go to The Microgreens Mad Scientist-Steamy KitchenMicrogreens Salad recipe
  • Try this Homegrown micro-green salad recipe
  • 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.

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.


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!



Maine Ag in the Classroom - 2018 Education Grants June 7th
The Flannel Shirt Fund – June 1, October 1, February 1 ($400 to $1200)
RetreeUS – orchards for schools, ongoing

Annie's Grants for Gardens - 2018 new grants TBA
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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