Blog Archive

Friday, October 30, 2015

October School Garden Newsletter

Greetings Michigan school gardeners,

Below is October’s edition of the school garden newsletter. There are TONS of garden grants open right now. We know it is busy at school during this time of year, but think ahead to how wonderful it will be to have a grant to use on for your garden program this spring. Good luck with your applications, and hope that you enjoy the newsletter!

Four easy steps to put your school garden to bed

By Kaitlin Koch Wojciak


There is no more denying it – fall has arrived, and winter is on its heels. The leaves are giving up on staying attached to the trees, and in some areas of the state they have already fallen. While some of us may be sad that we will soon be breaking out our warmest clothes and waving farewell to pleasantly temperate days, there are still many things to do outside to prepare for our winter season. One of these tasks is putting the garden to bed.


Just like our homes, apartments and places of work, we need to prepare our gardens for the potentially harsh weather ahead. For school gardeners, this is a wonderful opportunity to engage your students in a seasonal education experience.


Putting your garden to bed has direct benefits to the health of the garden ecosystem. This process will amp up your soil health, increase organic matter, prevent erosion, and reduce the risk of insect and fungal pests.


Follow these steps to prepare your garden for the winter and lay the foundation for a healthy, productive system in the spring:

·         Remove all annual plants, with the potential exception of root crops or crops that you are using season extension to grow. If plants still have unripe fruit, harvest them and store them inside until they ripen. This mainly applies to tomatoes. The annual plants can be added to your compost pile to cycle their nutrients back into the soil, unless they are diseased. In that case, dispose of them. Removing annuals will also decrease the possibility for insect pests to overwinter.


·         If you planted crops that are intended to be stored in the soil, such as carrots, beets or parsnips, ensure that you mulch them generously with straw to keep the soil at a more consistent temperature. You can harvest these crops for a few months into the winter. Some farmers plant enough root crops to harvest all winter!


·         Now is a great time to add organic material to your garden. In Michigan, leaves are one of the easiest options to use. Leaves will break down more easily over the winter if you shred them first, but it is not necessary. You can also use straw or compost as alternate options. Work some of whatever material you choose into the soil and ensure that you cover your soil with leaves or straw. Having a layer of material on the garden will help to prevent soil erosion over the winter.


·         If you have herbaceous (non-woody) perennials in your garden, cut them back to one or two inches above the ground. To reduce risk of a disease spreading, do not compost these plant materials at home.  You can send them to your municipal yard waste management service, if available in your community


These tips are adapted from Oregon State University Extension, Purdue Extension, and Colorado State University Extension’s guidelines for putting the garden to bed. Refer to any and all of these resources for more in depth information.


Michigan State University Extension supports the development and sustainability of school garden projects throughout the state and expanded learning opportunities for Michigan’s youth.


The Blossoming Health and Academic Benefits of School Gardens


This article highlights one school garden program in Dallas, and recently released research on the impacts of garden programs generally on test scores, attitudes towards vegetables and fruits and increased consumption of healthy foods.



School Garden Grant Information


It is the season for garden grants! Please see below for some newly opened opportunities.

We would always love to hear about your garden grant stories, awards or applications! Please feel welcome to write us with them so we can highlight your experience in the newsletter.


American Honda Foundation

Due dates quarterly, next one is November 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


Grants for Gardens through Annie’s

Currently open

Due December 4th, 2015

Only K - 12 schools are eligible to apply.

Programs that focus on connecting kids to real food will be chosen for funding. Awards can be used to purchase gardening tools, seeds or other needed supplies.

30 awards of $2,500 will be granted. Additional awards of $5,000 will be granted to 3 schools that have already received the initial grant.

Apply online at this link.


Fuel Up to Play 60

Due on November 4, 2015 (Quickly approaching!)

Schools that are enrolled in the Fuel up to Play 60 program are eligible to apply.

Award range: up to $4,000

Apply online at this link


The Herb Society of America

Due date: December 31

Formal or informal educators who are using innovative projects to enhance herbal education in school systems, communities or in any public forum.

Award: One or two $5,000 grants

More information and online application available 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.


Project Produce Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools

Open: February 1, 2015

Due date: None, distributed on a rolling basis

Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program is eligible. Must be submitted by district food service director.

These grants are $2,500 and can assist with offering educational activities in the lunchroom, encouraging students to try new veggies and fruits.

Read more and 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.


Youth Garden Grant through Kids Gardening

2016 Grant currently open

Due date: December 1, 2015

Nonprofits, schools, and youth educational garden projects that work with at least 15 youth between the ages of 3-18 are eligible to apply.

Winners are selected based on demonstrated program impact and sustainability.

The 20 awards include a package of garden supplies, materials and resources valued at $500.

Apply online at this link.


Whole Kids Foundation

2016 Grant currently open

Due date: October 31, 2015 at 5pm CST

K-12 schools or non-profits that work in partnership with a K-12 school to support new or existing edible gardens on school grounds are eligible to apply.

Awards are $2,000

Apply online at this link


Happy fall + Halloween weekend. Thanks for reading!



Kaitlin Koch Wojciak

Michigan State University Extension Educator

Community Food Systems

21885 Dunham, Suite 12

Clinton Township, MI 48036

Work: 586-469-6088

Cell: 313-695-7746


Take the MSU Extension and AgBioResearch Survey to Sharpen Our Focus


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.