Blog Archive

Monday, January 25, 2016

Michigan School Garden Newsletter Jan. 2016


January 2016

Happy New Year Michigan School Gardeners –


I hope you are reading your seed catalogs and planning this year's yummy garden with your students.  LOTS of math and science applications in planning the garden. 


LOTS of garden and education opportunities this time of year, so read up and don't miss out!




Greetings Michigan school gardeners—

MSU and local schools offer Garden to Cafeteria training

By Kaitlin Wojciak


Many schools throughout the state of Michigan have school gardens or hope to start one. An extension of school garden programming is using the garden produce in the cafeteria. Several garden to cafeteria practitioners claim that their students eat more produce when it is sourced from the garden. In Michigan we have a number of schools that are using the produce grown in their gardens in their food programs, and many more that are interested in learning how to incorporate their fresh produce in school meals and snacks.


Next month, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is hosting an educational webinar with Michigan school partners and MSU Extension about starting and maintaining garden to cafeteria programs. The webinar will walk through practical and applicable steps of the Garden to Cafeteria: A Step-by-Step Guide and feature real examples from two school programs.


The two featured school programs are West Michigan Academy of Environmental Sciences in Grand Rapids and Detroit Public Schools. These schools will share their examples of how they organize and run their program, their challenges, lessons learned and success stories.


Other topics covered will highlight the contents of the Garden to Cafeteria guide. The webinar will walk participants through how to get started by understanding regulations, planning for food safety, assessing the current climate for this type of program and planning what to grow. The school representatives will draw on their experience from building community connections and local resources to support their efforts. One of the most important considerations in a sustainable garden to cafeteria program is the relationship with food service. The presenters will discuss some ideas for building this relationship and some options for communication and moving your produce into the school food program. Lastly, presenters will discuss options to keep your garden to cafeteria in operation for year after year through funding and sales.


If you, or any of your connections are interested in starting or growing your garden to cafeteria program, consider tuning in to the webinar. Details are as follows:


Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Time: 2-3:30pm

Access link:

Call in number: 1-719-234-7800

Call in participant code: 690382

Michigan State University Extension supports garden to cafeteria efforts around the state, to encourage healthy students and abundant educational opportunities.


Starting and Sustaining a School Garden workshops in Jackson and Novi

By Kristine Hahn


Envision schools where all students go out into a garden for hands-on learning activities that correspond to and support the curriculum they learn in the classroom.  Teachers, administrators and volunteers can learn how to create and implement this kind of effective learning environment at the Starting and Sustaining a School Garden Workshop held Wednesday, February 24, 2016 from 8:00 am – 3:30 pm at the  located at Jackson Area Career Center 6800 Browns Lake Rd Jackson, MI 49201


Participants will learn from  Michigan State University Extension staff and local experts presenting on a variety of topics including Starting a School Garden Team, Best Practices and Curriculum Connections, How to Run a School Garden, and Food Safety.  Participants will also take part in several hands-on educational garden activities that they can then use with their students.  Moreover, there will be many opportunities to network and brainstorm with other school garden leaders and MSU Extension staff.  


The registration fee for the workshop is $75.00 and includes resource materials, morning refreshments, afternoon lunch, invaluable connections with industry experts and access to a Google Docs drive that has copies of the PowerPoint presentations and many additional resources.  Scholarships are available  – just contact Kristine Hahn at 248-802-4590 or  Online registration for MSU Extension Jackson Starting and Sustaining a School Garden is open at


Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on the February 16, 2016.


There will also be a Starting and Sustaining a School Garden workshop at the Tollgate Education Center and Farm located at 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, MI 48377 on Friday, April 15, 2016.  We will post more information and the registration website in next month's newsletter.


For more information about these workshops, or how your group can have a similar workshop at your location, contact Kristine Hahn, Community Food Systems Educator by phone at 248-802-4590 or by email at


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 February 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



Captain Planet Foundation

Due January 31 for fall and winter projects

Schools and organizations that have an annual operating budget of less than $3 million are eligible to apply. Projects should be performed by youth and have real environmental outcomes.

Award range is between $500 and $2,500.

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.


Lowe's Toolbox for Education Program

Spring 2016 cycle is due February 12th (or sooner if maximum application limit received)

Any individual, public K-12 school or non-profit parent group associated with a K-12 school is eligible to apply

Awards are $2,000 - $5,000

Apply online at this link



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.


Youth Micro-grants through Karma for Cara Foundation

Rolling deadline, currently open

Youth under age 18 who are working on a community service project (including school and community gardens).

Awards are between $250 - $1,000.

Apply online at this link.


School Garden Educational Opportunities

  1. 4-H Junior Master Gardener Workshop

Who:  Extension staff, teachers and volunteers interested in Junior Master Gardening and the all new Learn Grow Eat & Go curriculum to use in schools, afterschool programs, 4-H and partner programs.  When and where:  February 26, 2016 at MSU Tollgate Conference Education Center, 28115  Road, Novi, MI 48377  Cost:  $30.00; Registration fee includes lunch

Here is the URL to use for  registration:

Registration deadline is February 17, 2016


The last date for online registration is February 16, 2016.  Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on the February 16, 2016.


  • SAVE THE DATE: Starting and Sustaining a School Garden / Friday, April 15, 2016 at the Tollgate Education Center and Farm, 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, MI 48377  Registration details will be posted in next month's newsletter, or contact Kristine Hahn at 248-802-4590 or



Below is a notification about school garden curriculum development from an Education Master's degree student at Wayne State:


Hi.  For those of you who don't know me, my name is Kirke Elsass.  I need your help as I look for teachers in grades 6-12 to pilot garden-based science lessons specific to Michigan curriculum.


Over the last couple months, I've started creating a year's worth of science lessons using the middle school section of Michigan's K-12 science standards adopted this fall.


The lessons cover content, but they also build toward student planning, planting, and maintenance of a school garden. *** Some lessons are set outdoors and would require different weather than we have right now. But many lessons are in the classroom or could be easily modified to be indoors. ***


If you are a science teacher...

- and you still need to cover ecosystem content this year. Please check this set of lessons.  If there are any you might be able to pilot, feel free to use them and let me know what worked or didn't and what adjustments you had to make.

If you are interested in piloting a lesson at some point this year, send me an email saying "I'm interested"<>. That way I'll know it's OK to communicate with you more (such as offering to modify a lesson to your constraints or sending a reminder in the next couple months).

- and you still have content to cover this year that's not ecosystems. Please check this outline of units I plan to create. I have not completed all the lessons, but I would be happy to prioritize one for you. For example, I am now prioritizing cellular-level photosynthesis lessons so a high school biology teacher can pilot them. Check these lessons to get a sense of the form other lessons would take.


If you are not a science teacher...

- please forward this email to science teachers you know. And feel free to check out the lessons and outline above. Though you might not use them yourself, I hope you'd find them interesting just the same!


Any and all feedback and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Kirke Elsass

Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow

Wayne State University





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


Webinar TODAY @ 2:00 pm EST - Sourcing Local Food: Understanding Procurement Rules and Regulations

Hi Farm to School colleagues -


Sourcing Local Food: Understanding Procurement Rules and Regulations

Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 2:00 – 3:30 pm EST

Federal and state food procurement regulations can be tricky to navigate. Join staff members from the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems'(CRFS) Michigan Farm to School program and the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) for an in depth webinar on proper procurement procedures for sourcing local food for school and/or early childhood food programs, and learn tips and strategies for successfully navigating the process! Presenters include Abby Harper from MSU CRFS, Aimee Haapala, Melissa Lonsberry, Adrienne Davenport, and Jaime Malnar from MDE. Gary Slate from the United States Department of Agriculture will also be on to answer additional questions following the webinar.  

The webinar can be accessed at:


audio: 1-719-234-7800 Participant Code 690382


Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Upcoming workshops - Breaking into Institutional & Wholesale Markets


Announcing Breaking Into Institutional & Wholesale Markets Winter Workshops!

Institutional and wholesale markets can be a key component of a successful farm business and an important part of a plan to expand. At these workshops you’ll learn from farmers and food hub staff who have experience selling to institutions and wholesale markets about how to best present yourself and your business, quality standards buyers are likely to expect, products of interest, and how to price your products. The workshops are free to attend! Please register online at the links below.


February 15, 2016 from 2:30 - 4:30 with reception to follow until 6 pm

Territorial Brewing Company in Springfield/Battle Creek


  • Trent Thompson, Green Gardens Community Farm
  • Brennan Dougherty, Sprout Urban Farms
  • Tyler Vuillemot, Hoophouses for Health
  • Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist at CRFS and co-lead of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN)


Workshop hosted by Sprout Urban Farms, Michigan Farm to Institution Network, the Michigan Farmers Market Association and MSU CRFS.

Register to attend here by February 8, 2016.


March 18, 2016 from 1-3 pm

Allen Market Place in Lansing, as part of their Farmer and Food Business Workshop series


  • Mark Kastner, Hillcrest Farms
  • John McCarthy, Allen Market Place
  • Erin Caudell, Flint Ingredient Company, the Local Grocer and Hoophouses for Health
  • Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist at CRFS and co-lead of MFIN


Workshop hosted by the Allen Market Place, Michigan Farm to Institution Network, the Michigan Farmers Market Association, and MSU CRFS

Register to attend here by March 17, 2016.




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 311C Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |


Friday, January 22, 2016

MI Farm to School News

Happy Friday, Michiganders!

Don't forget to join us for our webinar on proper procurement for local food coming up on Monday! See details below. A lot of you have expressed interest to me in better understanding this, so hopefully I'll see many of you there! Lots of good stuff this week:


Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Southwest Michigan Food Safety Conference for Small & Mid-sized Farms

Register now for the Southwest Michigan Food Safety Conference on Wednesday, March 2 in Kalamazoo, MI.


Are you a small or mid-sized produce grower looking for guidance in navigating the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Rule?


Do you seek practical food safety solutions that are appropriate for the size and scale of your operation?


This is the conference for you! Full details on the attached flyer.


Topics include:


·        FSMA Preparation- Appropriate Solutions for Small Scale Farms and Food Operators

·        Speakers: Tim Slawinski (MDARD) and Phil Tocco (MSU Extension)


·        Food Safety Manuals & SOPs- Importance of documentation for GAP and GroupGAP

·        Speakers: Michelle Walk (MSU Extension), Vivien McCurdy (KVCC) and Natasha Lantz (Marquette Food Co-op and U.P. Food Exchange)


·        Panel Discussion- GAP Certification and other inspections

·        Speakers: Phil Tocco, Tim Slawinski, Phil Britton (Cherry Capital Foods), and local farmers.


Hope to see you in Kalamazoo!

Mariel Borgman

Community Food Systems Educator


MSU Extension at the KVCC Food Innovation Center


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Eastern Market Corporation IQF survey!

Hi all,

I’m passing along this survey for Michigan retail, food service, and institutional buyers to help Eastern Market as they explore an IQF (individually quick frozen) produce processing center. The researchers are happy to gather input from food buyers across the state!



Eastern Market Corporation is exploring the development of an individually quick frozen (IQF) processing center as a way of extending the season for local fruits and vegetables. We've put together a brief survey to evaluate interest from Michigan retail, food service, and institutional buyers in purchasing locally grown, individually quick frozen produce. The survey results for this study will be kept strictly confidential and only published in summary form so as not to reveal information about individual respondents. Please complete this survey by January 31, 2016. Access the survey here:



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 311C Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |


Friday, January 8, 2016

MI Farm to School News - Happy New Year Edition

Happy 2016!

Hope you all had a restful holiday season. A couple weeks off means some catch up on news and opportunities. 

A couple of great opportunities coming up in January – in addition to our upcoming webinars, the USDA is hosting an 11-part webinar series calling "Planning for Farm to School Success." These 30 minute webinars are kicking off next week with the first – on planning and building Farm to School teams (one of my favorite topics!). There are also two great Michigan conferences coming up that may help you connect with local farmers. 

I also wanted to share an exciting article on a Hoophouse for Health partnership in Menominee, as well as some news on our friends over at Sprout in Battle Creek showing the power of partnering Farm to School programs and food hubs. 2016 seems like its set up to be another great year for farm to school!

  • Farm-to-table lunch program in place at Carney-Nadeau Schools – Upper Michigan Source
    • I was super excited to read this article on one of our Hoophouses for Health partnerships up north. If you're interested in learning more about being a Hoophouse for Health Farm to School partner, email me! (both early childhood programs and K-12 schools qualify)
    • Highlights Sprout's work to use their food hub aggregation power to get two schools local food and small farmers access to institutional markets.
    Ever wonder about requirements for school food programs? Part 1 – MSU Extension
    • Part 1 of a series focusing on initiatives within the HHFKA that aim to shift school food environments – focusing on the National School Lunch Program nutrition standards.
  • Check out the Detroit School Garden Collaborative December newsletter (attached below) to learn about all that's happening in Farm to School at Detroit Public Schools (with some great info on vermicomposting! Worms are a great class pet!)
Did any of you make New Years resolutions? Mine is to use less exclamation points in my emails. I think I've failed already!


Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd. Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Talking Tomatoes, Rainbow Wraps,  & More!



Garden Griot

December 2015

Vol. 3 Issue 3 

Meet Tammy Tomato and Carlos Corn, DSGC's New Mascots
Students at Mackenzie Elementary learning the importance of healthy eating and plant parts from Tammy Tomato and Carlos Corn!
We are excited to announce the newest members of our Detroit School Garden Collaborative team... Tammy Tomato and Carlos Corn! Their mission is travelling to schools throughout the city to teach Detroit students how to make healthy food choices, why nutrition is important, and where healthy foods like fruits and vegetables come from. Would you like Tammy Tomato and Carlos Corn to visit your school? Contact
Farm to School: 
OSN Staff Lead, Katina Laird, works with students on prepping freshly harvested and washed greens at Drew Transition Center. Nice work Ms. Laird and students!
Drew Farms Delivers
Produces to 11 Schools
Drew Farms staff is excited to announce over 2,700 pounds of mixed salad greens were harvested between October-December and distributed to 11 Detroit schools. The mixed greens are prepared in salad cups with tomatoes or as loose lettuce on the tray.
A new small scale washing station installed at Douglass Academy for Young Men now allows DSGC run a full-fledged farm to school operation. Fresh produce is grown at Drew Farms, washed and prepped at Douglass, and then distributed to schools across the city.          
Office of School Nutrition Head Chef, Kevin Frank ,and his food service team have done an excellent job leading the washing procedures at Douglass. Additionally, food service staff across the district have been  preparing the fresh produce being dropped off to schools and serving it to students. Thank you to all OSN Food Service staff!

Garden Attendants Colleen Walker, 'Mr. O.' Elvin Owensby, Roxanne Brown, and Sarita Walker.


Thank You Garden Attendants!
You may have seen them at your school gardens, but these 4 outstanding Garden Attendants have shifted gears this season to assist in the Drew Farms high tunnel food production. Despite being a mild winter, these individuals have braved some chilly early mornings to keep the Drew Farms high tunnels up and running to produce high quality fresh produce for Detroit schools. From preparing the soil to seeding, harvesting by hand, and packaging, these four individuals (led by High Tunnel Manger, Michelle Lutz, and Farm Manager, Matt Hargis) are a true inspiration for what it means to serve our city's children with healthy food. 

Worms to the Rescue!
Vermicomposting Introduced at Professional Development
Dr. Rhodes-O'Neil, West Side Academy teacher, DSGC Director, Zaundra Wimberley, FoodCorps member Brooke Juday, and Drew Farms Manager Matt Hargis pose with Dr. Rhodes-O'Neil and her winning worm bin.
West Side Academy teachers Ms. Butler and Mr. Gauthier with student Casandra Brown, after recording vermicomposting observations. Nice work!

Last month's professional development, a partnership with the DPS Office of Science and Michigan State University Extension, was led by school garden educator, Kristine Hahn, who introduced the how-to's of composting and vermicomposting, the benefits it offers school gardens, and how it can be integrated as a learning tool in classroom curriculum.

Teachers participated in hands on activities, including working together to build vermicomposting (worm) bins from scratch! Known as "black gold," worm castings from red worms provide excellent nutrients for soil. This is the perfect indoor experiential learning project to do with students during the colder months and an opportunity to prepare for your school garden. Did you miss the training but are interested in learning how to make a worm bin for your classroom? See instructions below, if you have any questions please email 


How to Make a Vermicomposting Bin



  • 8-10 gallon plastic storage container
  • Drill (1/4" or 1/16" bits)
  • Shredded paper
  • Compostable food scraps
  • Handful of soil
  • Loose leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of red worms
  • Water spray bottle
  • Sheet of cardboard 

Best Worm Food

  • Fruits (avoid citrus)
  • Vegetables
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Leaves


Want more vermicomposting tips?Check out MSU's Extension Vermicomposting Guide.




1.) Drill about 20 holes near the top of the bin and on the lid to allow for ventilation.


2.) Layer the bottom of the bin with shredded newspaper, dampen paper with spray bottle of water.


3.) Toss in handful or two of soil.


4.) Add loose leaves, compostable food scraps, and another layer of shredded newspaper.


5.) Add red worms to the bin.


6.) Add another layer of newspaper and dampen with spray bottle.


7.) Place sheet of cardboard on top of the newspaper.


8.) Feed worms slowly (a couple times a week) and gradually increase as worms begin multiplying. Bury the food scraps in different spots to encourage worm movement.


Once your bin has transformed into "black gold," spread throughout you garden beds! Worms can be used again to continue vermicomposting or go strait into your garden. 

 Mark Your Calendars for the Next 
Teacher Training!

Plant Parts, Photosynthesis, & Cellular Respiration
Thursday, January 21st @ Drew Transition Center (9600 Wyoming)
Want to integrate your school garden into  your curriculum but not sure how? Looking for tips on how to strengthen preexisting lessons? Then this training is for you!
Kristine Hahn from Michigan State University Extension will be leading the workshop. A light meal will be provided, courtesy of the DPS Office of School Nutrition.

*All DSGC Teacher Trainings are approved Detroit Public School Professional Development and are a collaboration with the DPS Office of Science.
Please sign up via 
*Non DPS faculty, staff, and community members, please to register.
Thank you, we hope to see you there!

 Taste the Rainbow!

Nutrition Education Making an Impact


Students enjoying a fresh "rainbow wrap" made in class after learning about the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Our FoodCorps staff members have been visiting schools across the city teaching nutrition education lessons to students in kindergarten thru 8th grade. Lessons are also part of the federal Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program. There are 87 Detroit schools that receive a fruit or vegetable snack Monday thru Thursday every week and these lessons help students learn in fun and interactive ways what they are eating, why it is nutritious, how it grows, and different ways they can eat it! This month FoodCorps member Brooke visited schools to teach students about the importance of eating a variety of vegetables such as peppers, cabbage, and spinach. After the lesson, students made their own rainbow wraps! (see recipe below)
 Grant Writing Season!
Outdoor classroom space at Cody High School with benches, blackboard, and bark chip surface, all made possible through external grant funding awards.
Do you have ideas of how to expand your school garden? Need more materials for a project or looking for ways to build your garden as an outdoor learning space? Check out the grants below. We are happy to assist in the grant writing process, please reach out to Monica at

Amount: up to $5,000
Deadline: February, 12 2016 (cycle closes once 1500 proposals are received)

Amount: up to $5,000
Deadline: not listed, applications available February 1, 2016

Amount: varies
Deadline: March 6, 2016 (presentation), proposals must be received at least 2 weeks prior

Recipe of the Month

Rainbow Wraps
2 Whole Wheat Tortillas                                   
1 red bell pepper                                             
1 yellow pepper
1 large carrot
1 purple cabbage 
2 cups spinach                                                                            
Optional: Hummus or a dressing of your choice (click link for Herb Ranch Dressing!)
  1. Wash and rinse all produce.
  2. Slice red and yellow peppers into long strips.
  3. Shred cabbage.
  4. Thinly slice carrot into long strips.
  5. Optional: spread hummus or dressing onto tortillas.
  6. Place peppers, cabbage, and carrots into rows on tortilla like a rainbow.
  7. Roll up tortillas and enjoy!
Note: You can add sliced meat to your wraps. We recommend turkey breast, low in sodium and high in protein!
Nutritional benefits:
These wraps are loaded with nutrients! The peppers in particular are a great source of Vitamin C and the leafy greens are an excellent source  of Vitamin K, an important nutrient helping bones grow healthy and strong! 
                          Interested in Volunteering?
Join Friends of the Detroit School Garden Collaborative!

It may be the winter season, but we are growing our volunteer data base and we would love to have you has part of our team! Our Friends of DSGC members help at school gardens, Drew Farms, spring clean up days, and a variety of other volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering, please email
Thank you!
Happy Holidays from DSGC Staff!
The DSGC Staff wishes all of our teachers, principals, students, community partners, and volunteers a very blessed holiday. Thank you for being a part of our program and our mission to provide fresh, local, and nutritious food to Detroit students and their school communities.
Happy Holidays!
Want to learn more about DSGC?