Blog Archive

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?

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