July Newsletter
Racial Justice & School Gardens Resources
Returning to Classroom Instruction
Stay Engaged: Featured Connections
Summer Harvest of the Month
August Gardening Tips
Racial Justice & School Gardens Resources

In advancing MSGN’s mission to promote and support educational gardens for youth, it’s imperative we provide resources that assist garden educators in creating and fostering inclusive spaces where all students feel welcome and engaged. Racial and social injustices exist in Maine, in our schools (which is painfully recounted in this Bangor Daily News article from last month, 'Racism is my high school experience'). The second part of our mission speaks to climate change, in its mention of teaching environmental stewardship through school gardens. Climate change is seen as an issue of growing injustice, with some people impacted much differently than others.

Additionally, critics of school gardens bring considerations of race and migrant farm work in their arguments, as represented in an article from The Atlantic in 2010, Cultivating Failure: How school gardens are cheating our most vulnerable students. The author discusses how school gardens perpetuate an oppression of minority students with histories of migrant farm labor and slavery in their backgrounds. (This Grist article really speaks to this; please note that it contains expletives.) In understanding these criticisms, we build our strength as an organization and a network.

Here are a few additional resources:
  • Other People's ChildrenDon't Look Away, and Can We Talk About Race? are three books that speak to the education system.
  • This feature from Teaching Tolerance profiles three culturally responsive school gardeners. It notes, “Without adequate equity training, school garden programs may be ineffective at best or, at worst, unintentionally reinforce structural inequity and systemic racism. But when educational gardens directly address (rather than sidestep) issues of race and class, they can become a platform for partnership, healing and meaningful action.”
  • Article from Children & Nature Network: School Gardens in the City: Does Environmental Equity Help Close the Achievement Gap? The abstract (click on DOI at the bottom of the page) states that the authors “find that the presence of a school garden is associated with higher test scores and persists even when controlling for the race and class composition of students for reading and science. We conclude by discussing how school gardens can be used as a policy tool to create more environmental equity in urban areas.”
  • Scientific Research published an article, “Plant Justice: A Case Study in Racial Pedagogy and Food Justice in an Alternative Education Setting” which  “analyzes the impact of building a food justice education program... We also explore the possibility of a food justice program moving away from ‘teaching poor kids how to eat healthy’ into the realm of oppositional politics and community empowerment around environmental and educational justice” and brings school and community gardens into this conversation.
  • A paper from Virginia Commonwealth University entitled Community gardens: Exploring race, racial diversity and social capital in urban food deserts notes the evidence from their research results in “calls for: greater dialogue around gentrification concerns; the development of culturally appropriate engagement practices sensitive to historical trauma rooted in slavery, as well as not repeating past mistakes with involuntary youth labor; increased focus on entrepreneurial opportunities; and, obtaining the missing voices – those from non-participating low-income residents – to better understand how to create community gardens located in food deserts that benefit multiple communities.” Though the study focuses on community gardens, these concepts have implications for school gardens as well.
  • Teaching Tolerance has Educator Grants for K-12 educators who embrace and embed anti-bias principles throughout their classrooms, schools and districts.  
  • The 2020 Keynote speaker at the Oregon Farm to School Conference was Jamese Kwele, whose presentation was entitled, "Advancing Equity in Farm to School."
For more racial justice resources, please see the list from our June Newsletter
Returning to Classroom Instruction

With the recent release of the Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction, we know districts are working so diligently on mapping out what fall will look like. 

Community Learning for ME is hosting a 3-day virtual conference to connect Maine educators to high-quality professional development workshops, August 11-13. More info here. 

Free professional development for environmental educators: interactive, virtual sessions with ACRES (Afterschool Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM), a project of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance. Learn more about joining a cohort here.

USDA has issued a request for applications for a new program, Innovating Formal and Non-formal Educational Experiences in Food and Agricultural Sciences During the Time of Social Distancing. More info here

The National Farm to School Network has weekly newsletters that are full of helpful information from covid-19 related resources to funding opportunities. Find the most recent news here and do consider signing up for it to come straight to your inbox. has TONS of free webinars, many of which offer certificates for attending. Here are some of the titles of recent and upcoming virtual trainings: 
  • Reopening Schools: A Scheduling Map for Educators link here
  • Recreating the Conditions for Learning This Fall linked here
  • Remote Learning for Early Learners with Autism link here
  • Using Focus Skills to Close Covid-19 Learning Gaps link here
  • Engagement Strategies for Reimagined Classrooms linked here
  • Embracing Andi-Bias Classrooms: A Response to Racism in America linked here
  • Packaging Your Digital Assignments: Creating Efficient and Easy-to-Navigate Lessons for Learning at Home linked here
  • Tier 1 Social, Emotional and Behavioral Supports to Restart Learning During a Crisis linked here
  • Hands-on and Virtual: STEM Learning from a Distance linked here
  • Self-Care for Educators in the Time of Covid-19 (and Beyond) linked here
  • Accelerating Student Learning to Close the Gaps: Strategies to Mitigate the Impacts of COVID Slide and Summer Learning Loss linked here
  • Digital Equity Strategies for Learning Beyond the Classroom linked here
  • Safeguarding Back to School: Principles to Guide a Healthy Opening to Classrooms During COVID-19 linked here
  • Articulating a Plan for Addressing Interrupted Learning: Best Teacher Practices for Back-to-School 2020 linked here
  • Making It Work: Co-Teaching for Special Education in the Age of Digital Learning linked here
  • Changing a Child's Behavior Starts with Changing Adult Behavior: The Power of Classroom Management linked here
  • Four Districts' Distance Learning Approaches for SEL and Mental Health linked here
  • Build Media Skills to Boost Student Learning in Blended or Virtual Classrooms linked here
  • Hands-on and Virtual: STEM Learning from a Distance linked here
  • Professional Learning Support: Leveraging Title IIA for Remote Learning linked here
  • Leading Through Uncertainty: An Emphasis on Social Emotional Wellness linked here
  • Crafting an Equitable Reopening Plan with Hybrid and Remote Models linked here
  • Packaging Your Digital Assignments: Creating Efficient and Easy-to-Navigate Lessons for Learning at Home linked here
  • Talking to Elementary and Middle School Students about COVID-19 linked here
  • At-Home Teaching and Learning with Young Children linked here
  • Custom Curriculum Creation & Copyright: The Basics linked here
  • How Mindfulness Fits into Education in the Pandemic Era linked here
Stay Engaged
Featured Connections 

Join the Maine Food Convergence Project: Get involved with addressing food insecurity and climate impacts in Maine by sharing your ideas or attending a virtual Regional Dialogue.

MOFGA continues to host a wide variety of educational opportunities online including a children's garden club, gardening Q&As, digital tours, farmer discussions, and more.  

The Edible Schoolyard is hosting Summer Training at Home, a free, multi-month summer program of online training and professional development sessions for the field of edible education. 

Earlier this month, the Maine Environmental Education Association hosted a Statewide Forum entitled "How Outdoor Learning Can Support Reopening Public Education." If you missed the forum, access the video recording as well as a guidance document for outdoor learning at the MEEA website.

UMaine Extension is offering virtual 4-H Summer Programming Sessions on a range of topics for youth. Learn more and see the schedule here.

SeedMoney is accepting grant applications until November 12. Find more information here!

And in case you missed it last month, don't forget:
  • Curriculum: Portland Public Schools invites you to access their garden-based education lessons & resources. Please remember to complete the feedback form if you do use them!
  • Funds: MAITC grant program deadlines are coming up 8/21. For assistance on writing grants, start with this: Helpful Tips for Promising Proposals.
  • Teacher Nomination: Applications are open for MAITC's Teacher of the Year - recognizing an outstanding Maine elementary or secondary school teacher who uses agricultural education materials and/or activities in the classroom to teach core subjects.
  • Video Lessons: From FoodCorps, created by FoodCorps AmeriCorps service members across the country.
  • Garden Help: The UMaine Extension Victory Gardens for ME video series features helpful how-to for beginner gardeners--from managing weeds to how to water your plants. Still not getting your questions answered? Reach out to your local Cooperative Extension office for expert advice.
  • Food Preservation: UMaine Extension is also hosting a Food Preservation Webinar Series, providing lively discussion and demonstrations on how to preserve Maine foods throughout the growing season. 

July is Maine Summer Squash!
August is Maine Cucumbers!

Nutrition directors and cafeteria staff are making sure youth are fed this summer. It's a great time to source locally grown food for summer meals! If your school food service is providing summer meals, encourage them to pledge to participate in Harvest of the Month: Summer Programs! And Maine Ag in the Classroom has just put out some new HOM curriculum resource pages on the Teach ME website!


  • Plant fall crops. Use Johnny's Selected Seeds fall planting calculator with your frost date to determine how late in the season you can plant.
  • Plan a virtual School Garden Open House for back to school time. Engage students from afar by asking them to submit their favorite garden memories, crops they've grown, or lessons they've learned in the school garden. Reach out to local reporters and invite them to do a news story about how your garden has weathered the wacky growing season this year.
  • Continue summer care of gardens. Reach out to your local Cooperative Extension with technical gardening questions that may come up. 
  • Purchase or borrow a garden or large kitchen scale to weigh harvested produce. Keep records of what was harvested and number of pounds of each. Share results at the end of the season with your school and your principal, Food Service Director, and School Board. 
  • Donate to a local food pantry, families in the community, or give to volunteers helping in the gardens.
  • Think of ways to promote a stipend or paid position for a school garden coach.
  • Develop a Garden Volunteer Role Description. For ideas, UMaine Extension has a Volunteers & Volunteer Management section in one of their many publications & Billings Farm has this job description for reference.
  • Plan, plan, plan. How have things been growing this season? Anything you'd change for the future? Be sure to document as much as possible, and note what would be helpful to remember for next season. 
 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 CalendarFedco's Veggie Chart, and Johnny's Planting Calculator and Succession Planting Template.
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