Blog Archive

Friday, May 1, 2015

Michigan School Garden Newsletter

Happy Spring School Gardeners -

Welcome to the Michigan School Garden Newsletter!

My Michigan State University Extension colleague Kaitlin Koch and I will be distributing a monthly Michigan School Garden newsletter.  Our goals are to build a communication and support network of people in Michigan who are involved in school gardens for information sharing and finding solutions to common (or uncommon!) problems encountered in the school garden world.  Our hope is to strengthen existing school gardens, increase their effectiveness as teaching tools for all curriculum and discover even more effective ways to use school gardens to improve the nutrition of Michigan schoolchildren (and their parents, too!).

This month we will start out with a couple of articles and some available grant information.  As time goes on, we will be adding educational opportunities and we encourage you to contact us to let us know what kinds of information would be most useful to you and your students. 

Thank you for your time and attention, and we'll talk to you next month!

Best Regards,

Kristine Hahn, Extension Educator           
Community Foods Systems
Michigan State University
Kaitlin Koch, Extension Educator
Community Food Systems
Michigan State University


May 2015




Ramp up or Begin your Farm to School Program

by Kaitlin Koch, Extension Educator


The idea of Farm to School has become more well-known over the last few years thanks to local efforts, the National Farm to School Network and increased awareness about the state of school food throughout the nation. The clearest example of a Farm to School project is food service staff sourcing local food directly from farmers and serving it in school food programs. In truth, when most people hear "Farm to School", that's probably what they envision.


Farm to School efforts can be so much more than sourcing local food from local farmers. While this aspect of Farm to School is important and plays a crucial role in boosting local agriculture and creating a market for local products, it can be challenging for many schools to do successfully.


The National Farm to School Network defines Farm to School efforts as having three key components. These include school gardens, nutrition education and local sourcing. This means that many schools are already doing some form of Farm to School work, and are likely not acknowledging their efforts as such. Making parents and community members aware of any Farm to School effort in a school building or district may bring positive public attention to your school.


The three faces of Farm to School gives teachers, food service staff, parent volunteers and community stakeholders more options and opportunities to engage with Farm to School work, depending on the context of their schools. Some schools have a landscape that is ripe for incorporating all three elements, and some schools may find it difficult to start incorporating just one. As Farm to School programs mature, stakeholders will find it easier to add more components and integrate the three facets of Farm to School into their efforts. Eventually, with a good sustainability plan and dedicated stakeholders, Farm to School efforts can lead to a culture shift in a school and a holistic approach to health and wellness, which incorporates healthy food, experiential learning and critical thinking.


Michigan is fortunate to be a host site for an innovative example of a Farm to School program that aligns with the three key components of Farm to School and develops young leaders in the food system. This program is called FoodCorps, a national service program, which is part of the AmeriCorps service network. In Michigan there are six service sites spread throughout the state, where members engage with and support students in their communities around Farm to School education and efforts.


No matter the stage of your Farm to School program, there are resources available. In Michigan, Farm to School grants are available for planning and implementation, both with a maximum value of $2,000. Visit the appropriate link for specific details on eligibility, guidelines and how to apply. The deadline for both grants is May 6th, 2015.


On the national level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the release of the 2015 cycle of Farm to School grants. While this funding program is highly competitive, grantees can be awarded a maximum amount of $25,000 - $100,000, depending on the type of grant for which you apply. The USDA has hosted two webinars that will assist you with your grant application process, which can be found at this link.


Categories of grants include planning, implementation, support services and training. For detailed explanations about each of these grant types, eligibility information and application procedure, visit this page. Letters of intent for training grants are due on April 30th, 2015 and applications for planning, implementation and support service grants are due on May 20th, 2015.


For more information on Farm to School efforts and opportunities in Michigan, consider signing up for the Michigan Farm to School list serv, or the Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems email updates.


Michigan State University Extension supports Farm to School efforts around the state, to encourage healthy students and abundant opportunities for Michigan producers.




Responsibly produced food commands a higher price

by Kristine Hahn, Extension Educator


A "Conscious Consumer" survey conducted by Gibbs rbb in August 2014 of 2,010 U.S. adults revealed that Americans are willing to spend on average 31% more per week on food and beverage merchandise that was responsibly produced.


What is a "Conscious Consumer"?  They are an important segment of the 768 billion dollar grocery market – a growing mid-class that is concerned with corporate social responsibility, sustainability, nutrition and recycling.  Corporate social responsibility is when food and beverage goods are produced in ways that promote the health of the planet, humans and food safety.


Two-thirds of the grocery market growth will come from the conscious consumer group according to the food and beverage industry consultant Gibbs rbb.     


In other words, Americans are making their food purchasing decisions based on their values, and are willing to pay a premium for products that align with their values.  These conscious consumers will also abandon a company if their products are recalled, have irresponsible labor practices or harm animal welfare.  Therefore, the ability of a company to clearly demonstrate that they have good corporate social responsibilities can have a significant impact on that company's market share and profits. 


More significantly, this relationship of consumers' values corresponding to their purchasing decisions and product loyalty has the potential to make an impact on our food system.  Socially responsible business practices will increase and become more standard as food and beverage companies try to increase their market share.  For example, increased recycling of products will increase the number of recycling businesses and thus become a more important component of the food system.  


Conscious consumer values correspond to the Michigan Good Food Charter's definition of good food:

           Healthy - It provides nourishment and enables people to thrive


           Green - It was produced in a manner that is environmentally sustainable


           Fair - No one along the supply chain was exploited for its creation


           Affordable - All people have access to it.


The Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems work group has adopted the "good food" definition of the Michigan Good Food Charter.  This definition embodies the concept of the "triple bottom line" where people/society and planet/ecology share equally with the business goal of profit.  According to the poll by Gibb's rbb that philosophy is right on target to gaining market share.


School Garden Grant Information


USDA Announces $96 Million Available to Expand Access to Healthy Food, Support Rural Economies

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $96.8 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to support specialty crop producers, local food entrepreneurs, and farm to school efforts. The grant programs administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service include the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which covers two types of grants: the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program. Also included in the announcement is the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service Farm to School Grant Program, designed to bring local foods into the school cafeteria.


With $5 million in funding available, four different types of USDA Farm to School grants are available:


    Planning grants - to help schools get started

    Implementation grants - to enable schools to expand existing programs

    Support service grants - allows community partners such as non-profit entities, Indian tribal nations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers to provide broad reaching support to schools in their efforts to bring local products into the cafeteria

    Training grants - to disseminate best practices and spread strategies known to succeed


Proposals for planning, implementation, and support service grants are due by May 20, 2015. Letters of intent for training grants are due by April 30, 2015. More information about the Farm to School grant program, upcoming webinars relevant to applicants, and sample grant applications can be found at:




With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) is now accepting applications for the MI Farm to School Grant Program for the 2015 - 2016 school year! The MI Farm to School Grant Program will award up to 20 Michigan K-12 schools/districts and early childhood programs with funds ($2,000 maximum each) to plan for or implement Farm to School programs. The grant year is September 8, 2015 – June 5, 2016. Applications are due by 5 pm onWednesday, May 6, 2015.


The MI Farm to School Grant Program offers Planning and Implementation grants:  Planning Grants help schools/districts and early childhood programs plan for integrating local foods into their meal programs AND ultimately develop a Farm to School Action Plan to begin a Farm to School program.


Implementation Grants help schools/districts and early childhood programs put existing Farm to School plans into action AND ultimately develop a Farm to School Sustainability Plan to keep the program going in future years.



·         Only food service/nutrition directors/providers of schools/districts or early childhood programs are eligible to apply. Only one application may be submitted per school/district or early childhood program per year.


·         Schools/districts must have at least 50% free and reduced-price meal enrollment to apply.


·         For early childhood programs:


o    Head Start programs, including Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and Native American Head Start, Early Head Start and Great Start Readiness programs automatically qualify given federal and state requirements for these programs.


o    If a preschool or other early childhood program is in a K-12 school/district, the school or district must have 50% free and reduced price meal eligibility or greater. Programs solely contracting with a school/district for food programs must apply in partnership with the school/district food/nutrition services director.


o    Other center-based programs such as private for profit, private non-profit, faith-based, and day care home programs must be located in an attendance area of a school building where at least 50% of the enrollment are eligible for free and reduced price meals. All programs must receive USDA CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program) meal reimbursements.


See application materials for more details about eligibility.


An informational webinar for prospective applicants will be held on Thursday, April 16th from 2:00 to 3:00 pm. To join the webinar, log in at the appointed time to: and call 1-888-850-4523, Participant Code: 690382 for audio.


For applications and additional information, please see the attachments/links within this email or visit the MI Farm to School Grant Program webpage. Please contact Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist, with questions or for more information at or517-432-0312.



The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation




The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is an award-winning international nonprofit charity dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat global warming, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water.


FTPF programs strategically donate orchards where the harvest will best serve communities for generations, at places such as community gardens, public schools, city/state parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations, international hunger relief sites, and animal sanctuaries.


Download FTPF's application here:


Applications have a rolling deadline.


The Honda Foundation



The American Honda Foundation engages in grant making that reflects the basic tenets, beliefs and philosophies of Honda companies, which are characterized by the following qualities: imaginative, creative, youthful, forward-thinking, scientific, humanistic and innovative. We support youth education with a specific focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in addition to the environment. When considering the American Honda Foundation as a potential funding source, please note the following:


Eligible Organizations:

Nonprofit charitable organizations classified as a 501(c) (3) public charity by the Internal Revenue Service, or a public school district, private/public elementary and secondary schools as listed by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).


To be considered for funding organizations MUST have two years of audited financial statements examined by an independent CPA for the purpose of expressing an opinion if gross revenue is $500,000 or more. If gross revenue is less than $500,000, and the organization does not have audits, it may submit two years of financial statements accompanied by an independent CPA's review report instead.


Geographic Scope:



Grant Range:


$20,000 - $75,000 for a one year grant period.


Funding Priority:

Youth education, specifically in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the environment, job training and literacy.

Deadline for current round of applications is May 1


Kristine Hahn

Michigan State University Extension Educator

Community Food Systems

Eastern Market Office

1445 Adelaide

Detroit, MI 48207


248-802-4590 (CELL)

313-567-8726 (FAX)

NEW LOCATION and phone number


"We are what we repeatedly do.  Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit."  Aristotle


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