Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June Michigan School Garden newsletter

Happy Summer School Gardeners -

Welcome to our second Michigan School Garden newsletter!  We hope this information is useful to you and we encourage you to send us your comments and suggestions to make it as applicable as possible.

Enjoy your summer, but don't forget to make plans for your cool crops and a Fall/Winter cover crop.  We'll have an article in next month's newsletter to familiarize you with cool crops and cover crops for use in a school garden. 

Best Regards,

Kristine Hahn

Michigan State University Extension Educator

Community Food Systems


Kaitlin Koch
Michigan State University Extension Educator
Community Food Systems


June 2015




Selling your crop to Michigan institutions this summer

by Kaitlin Koch, Extension Educator

Community Foods Systems


Connect the dots between the three pillars of Farm to School by encouraging local producers to sell their produce to summer food service programs.  Click on the title/link to read the entire article.



Summer Maintenance of the School Garden

by Kristine Hahn, Extension Educator

Community Foods Systems


Even though summer is usually the most productive time in a garden, it can be a big challenge for schools that have the typical "summer vacation".  The goal of this article is to offer some tips on how to successfully maintain the school garden when school is not in session.  Obviously, there is no "one size fits all" for every school garden summer maintenance schedule, but hopefully we can provide you with some useful ideas that can assist you in making your garden operate smoothly year round.


The first suggestion is to completely skip the summer gardening season and plant only spring and fall crops.  This option often works well for newer school gardens that still need to establish a consistent volunteer team and maintenance plan.  The garden can then regenerate during the summer months much like the teachers and students, if the spring crops are harvested and a cover crop is established before the end of school.  Most people are only aware of the "hot crops" of summer such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash.  This "Fall and Spring Crops Only Plan" is very useful for expanding students and teachers knowledge of the wide variety of healthy crops that are grow best during the cool spring and fall temperatures, such as greens, kale, lettuces and broccoli.  Be sure that you allow for plenty of time for the crops to grow to maturity- crops such as radishes, lettuces and peas are often ready to harvest within 6 weeks of planting the seed.


Having a solid planting plan that is implemented within the first week of September is essential to making a fall garden successful in Michigan schools.  It is also helpful to send out "save the date" reminders of the fall planting date to fellow garden teachers and volunteers before the end of school in the late spring, and again during the flurry of the first week of school in September.


While planting fall and spring crops only may work for some schools, summer crops are tried and true favorites.  If you have a well-established school garden team, coordinating summer care and maintenance of the school garden through volunteers may be a good option.  Recruitment of summer maintenance volunteers typically starts the previous fall by being visible within the school community and getting to know the school families and community members.  You can have a table at PTA meetings and at the Kindergarten Roundup, and advertise in the school newsletter and through email listservs.  Ask the teachers you work with to recommend parents who they think might be interested.  The Easter vacation can be a good trial run to see which volunteers are the most reliable and work out best in the school garden. 


Once you've identified your summer maintenance team there are a few things you can do to make sure things run efficiently.  Try to schedule work days and times around the days and times your volunteers prefer.  Consider the volunteers' desired method of communication, and adapt for those that do not have internet or smart phones.  Be sure to offer orientation and training to volunteers and encourage questions.  Schedule the training at a few different days or times if necessary to get everyone to participate.  Be sure to let all volunteers know what your summer availability is and the best way to contact you.  Remind volunteers both verbally and in writing to bring any problems, ideas or concerns to your attention.  Lay out and negotiate if necessary your expectations from the very beginning in terms of commitment level, what to do if they can't make their scheduled work day/assignment and the garden ground rules.  Host garden drop-in hours when volunteers can come in unscheduled and have access to the garden, tools, and most importantly, YOU.  Providing working lessons during these drop in hours are an effective way to train volunteers and get work done at the same time.


A committed and experienced garden volunteer is worth their weight in gold, so be sure to always follow up and demonstrate your appreciation for their efforts.  There are many effective ways to show how much you value their time.  Checking in with the volunteer at the end of their shift to see how things went; if they needed anything; discuss with them how to improve their experience, or how to make it more fun.  At the end of the season, be sure to print out certificates of appreciation and present them at a Garden Volunteer Recognition Celebration.  Following these practices regularly should keep those volunteers coming back both in the summer and during school for years to come.    



School Garden Grant Information


American Honda Foundation


Due dates quarterly, next one is August 1


Schools, nonprofits classified as 501(c) (3) s and private or public schools (elementary and secondary) are eligible.


Award range: $20,000 - $75,000 for one year


Apply online at this link


 Captain Planet Foundation


Due date: September 30th


Schools, nonprofits and other organizations are eligible, as long as they are exempt from federal taxation. Proposals must include three considerations: be project-based, be performed by youth and have real environmental outcomes.


Apply online at this link


The Home Depot Foundation


Community Impact Grants currently open


Schools and 501(c) (3) organizations are eligible.


Awards are up to $5,000


Apply online at this link


The Home Depot also has opportunities to match donations from local stores with nonprofits. Follow this link for more information on how to request a match.


Jamba Juice "It's all about the Fruits and Veggies" Garden Grant


Open date: 6/1/15


Due date: 10/2/15


Schools, nonprofits and community organizations are eligible with at least 15 children between the ages of 3-18. Proposed projects must be within a 50 mile radius of a Jamba Juice store. Awards consist of $100 in soil amendments and plants and $400 in gardening supplies. Apply online at this link


Sow it Forward Garden Grants


2016 Grant currently open


Due date: January 8, 2016


Nonprofit organizations, schools, 501(c) (3) organizations, food banks, community gardens (and more!) are eligible.


Projects are to focus on food garden projects that benefit their community.


Awards are full or partial. Full grants are $300-400 in cash and remainder in seeds and garden supplies. Partial grants are $300 cash and $25 one year subscription to Kitchen Gardeners International garden planner.


Apply online at this link.













Introducing a new Specialist & new resources!



With a new Specialist and new resources, we’re gearing up for a great year for Michigan Farm to School here at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS)!


First, I’d like to e-introduce you to our new Farm to School Specialist, Abby Harper. Many of you may have met Abby last summer when she was interning with CRFS and was out and about around Michigan. Now that she has completed her studies at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston, she returns to us as a full-time staff member! Among other things, Abby will serve as the lead for the MI Farm to School Grant program and will be developing our Farm to Early Childhood work further, both here in Michigan and nationally. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from Abby in the future, but for now she can be reached at Please join me in welcoming Abby. I’m sure she’ll be a valuable addition to the great Farm to School work happening in Michigan and beyond.


Second, at long last, I’d like to share that our Farm to Early Childhood Programs: A Step-By-Step Guide is now available! Freely downloadable, this new guide provides tools and resources to help early childhood program providers of all types and sizes purchase and use local foods in their meals and snacks. Jekeia Murphy and Julia Smith, both former Specialists here at CRFS with expertise in childhood education and early childhood development, respectively, led the development of this guide, which was funded through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We would like to thank our many partners, in Michigan and beyond, who provided their expertise and reviewed the guide or pieces of it. Please do feel free to be in touch with me and/or Abby with feedback or input on the usability of the guide, but I trust it will prove helpful as you plan to take advantage of the season’s harvest!


Finally, as you tend to your summer gardens, I want to remind you of our most recently released guide: Garden to Cafeteria: A Step-By-Step Guide. This guide provides an approach for school garden educators and stakeholders, both experienced and newcomer, to successfully source products from school gardens for use in the cafeteria or food program. This guide is also freely downloadable and was authored by Kaitlin Koch, now with MSU Extension’s Community Food Systems team and based in Macomb County, with a little help from yours truly. Check out this video spotlighting the Garden to Cafeteria program at Detroit Public Schools for some inspiration!


Happy summer,


Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist | Michigan Lead for National Farm to School Network

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd | Rm 303 Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |


Friday, June 19, 2015

Reminder to RSVP! Joint network meeting, 7/15-7/16 in Flint

Greetings Michigan Good Food friends and colleagues,


Remember to RSVP for the upcoming joint network meeting co-hosted by the Michigan Food Hub Network and the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN) along with local MSU Extension Community Food Systems partners on July 15 – 16, 2015 in Flint, Michigan. Free to attend, this special event is sure to be packed with good food, good conversation and opportunities for collaboration!


The two-day gathering has three parts for which you can RSVP separately:

·         Tours of Good Food projects in Flint, including the downtown Flint Farmers Market, from 2 – 4:45 pm on Wednesday, July 15th

·         Networking reception on the rooftop terrace of the market from 5 - 7 pm on Wednesday, July 15th

·         Joint network meeting from 8:30 – 3 pm on Thursday, July 16th with a light breakfast and lunch at the market provided


Please RSVP here for any or all of these unique events. The RSVP deadline is 12 noon on Friday, July 10th.


For those who plan to overnight in Flint on Wednesday, July 15th, we have a block of rooms reserved at the Holiday Inn Express Flint, Campus Area. Rooms in the block will be offered at a discounted rate of $89.99 on a first come, first serve basis until July 1, 2015. To make your reservation, please call the hotel directly at 810.238.7744 and mention that you are with the “MSU Center for Regional Food Systems meeting, Block Code: MSU” to get the discounted rate.



The Michigan Food Hub Network is led by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and co-convened by Morse Marketing Connections, LLC. It facilitates increased learning, innovation and profitability for participating food hubs, increased access to food hub financial and technical assistance, research and education, and increased business-to-business collaboration across food hubs.


The Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN) is co-led by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and the Ecology Center with support from MSU Extension. MFIN is a space for learning, sharing and working together to get more local food to institutions, including through the local food purchasing campaign Cultivate Michigan. Like us on Facebook!



We hope to see you there,


Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist | Michigan Lead for National Farm to School Network

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd | Rm 303 Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |


Thursday, June 11, 2015

You're Invited! Michigan Good Food Fund Community Events - 4 dates and locations

You're Invited! Michigan Good Food Community Events
Michigan Good Food Fund Launch Events
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Michigan Good Food Fund!

You're Invited to Celebrate the Fund Launch at Community Events Across the State! 

We are excited to celebrate the launch of the innovative Michigan Good Food Fund with events across the state! See below for details about gatherings in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Traverse City. 

These community events will:

  • Highlight fund offerings - from financing to business assistance
  • Explain who's eligible to apply
  • Introduce core fund partners: MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, Fair Food Network, Capital Impact Partners & W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Feature refreshments & snacks by local food entrepreneurs! 

What is the Michigan Good Food Fund? The Michigan Good Food Fund is a new public-private partnership loan and grant fund that will provide financing and business assistance to good food enterprises that benefit underserved communities across Michigan.

Join Us at These Events!

Monday, June 15th
1pm - 3pm

Allen Market Place
1629 E. Kalamazoo St. 
Lansing, MI 48912

RSVP: I'm Coming to This Event!
Thursday, June 18th
10am - 12pm

The Gallery at LINC

341 Hall St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507

RSVP: I'm Coming to This Event!
Monday, June 22nd
10am - 12pm

Eastern Market - Shed 5

2934 Russell Street
Detroit, MI 48207

RSVP: I'm Coming to This Event!
Monday, June 29th
10am - 12pm

Cherry Capital Foods

Let us know you're coming!
Use the link below to RSVP to any of the events.

 © 2015 Michigan Good Food Fund, All rights reserved.

You are receiving this email because you have a connection to Michigan Good Food Fund and may be interested in this event. 

Mailing address:
Michigan Good Food Fund
c/o Fair Food Network
205 E. Washington St., Suite B
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

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Michigan Good Food Fund · c/o Fair Food Network · 205 E. Washington St., Suite B · Ann Arbor, MI 48104 · USA

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Michigan Good Food Fund Launches to Grow Michigan=?Windows-1252?Q?=B9s_?= Good Food Future -- First of its kind approach working to increase access to healthy food and drive economic development

 See announcement of Michigan Good Food Fund below….

Rich Pirog, Senior Associate Director
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Road, Room 302
East Lansing, MI 48824
Office: 517-353-0694
Cell: 515-231-7556





Naomi Patton



Michigan Good Food Fund Launches to Grow Michigan's Good Food Future

First of its kind approach working to increase access to healthy food and drive economic development


Lansing, Mich. – The Michigan Good Food Fund—a new public-private partnership loan and grant fund created to address lack of healthy food access in rural and urban communities alike by supporting good food entrepreneurs across the state—launches today.

The Michigan Good Food Fund addresses the significant need for healthy food access in rural and urban communities alike. While Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation with food and agriculture contributing $101.2 billion annually to the state's economy, more than 1.8 million Michigan residents—including 300,000 children—live in lower-income communities with limited healthy food access. The lack of access to affordable and nutritious food has serious implications for the health of our children and families—more than 30 percent of Michiganders are obese, the second highest rate of obesity in the Midwest region. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted.

 "The Michigan Good Food Fund will be an essential component of our work to provide accessible healthy food to everyone in Michigan, especially vulnerable communities," said Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network president and CEO. "The fund will also be an incredible opportunity for food entrepreneurs, harnessing capital and growing strong, local economies."

Created by a coalition of food sector, nonprofit, higher education, government and philanthropic partners, the fund provides financial capital and business assistance to businesses that grow, distribute and sell fresh and healthy food that reaches low-income populations. This effort will increase access to healthy food, improve the health of all Michigan residents and drive economic development and job creation.

Core partners include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, fund manager Capital Impact Partners, and Fair Food Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems who will co-lead business assistance and pipeline development.

The fund is modeled after the pioneering Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, the California FreshWorks Fund and other similar successful statewide efforts. However, unlike other healthy food financing initiatives, which primarily focus on retail efforts, the Michigan fund will work to create financial and social impact throughout the food supply chain. 

The Michigan Good Food Fund supports efforts across the value chain including healthy food production, distribution, processing, marketing and retail projects. It will offer financing through flexible, competitive loans as well as grants investments with a mission-driven approach targeting those enterprisesoften overlooked by traditional sources of financing, Lending will be bolstered by business assistance to help entrepreneurs grow their ventures and build a pipeline of investment-ready projects.

 At launch, fund investors include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States committed to partnering with communities where children come first, and the Max and Marjorie Fisher Foundation. The goal is to grow the fund to $30 million.

The fund is committed to supporting projects that benefit traditionally underserved communities through increased access to nutritious food as well as capital and job opportunities. It also encourages the sourcing of locally grown food and sustainable environmental practices. It presents an opportunity not only for entrepreneurs, but also for foundations and other investors looking to amplify their work for greater impact in service to low-income children and families.

"One in five Michigan residents live in lower-income communities with limited access to the nutritious fruits and vegetables they need to thrive," said La June Montgomery Tabron, W.K. Kellogg Foundation president and CEO. "The Michigan Good Food Fund is fueling our state's good food economy and increasing access to healthy food with direct benefits for our most vulnerable children and families."




About Michigan Good Food Fund: The Michigan Good Food Fund is a new public-private partnership loan and grant that provides financing and business assistance to healthy food production, distribution, processing, marketing, and retail projects that benefit underserved communities across Michigan. Dig in at, email, and join us on Facebook or Twitter@MIGoodFoodFund with the hashtag #MGFF.


In June, fund partners will host a series of community engagement events in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Traverse City to introduce the fund and build awareness among fund recipients and local partner organizations.



Naomi Patton

Vice President


T 248.203.8133

M 917.359.6464                    


Weber Shandwick, 360 W. Maple Road, Birmingham, MI 48009


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