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Monday, March 14, 2016

March 2016 Michigan School Garden newsletter


March 2016

Happy Spring Michigan School Gardeners


April is less than 3 weeks away – WOOT!  If you haven't already – order the seeds for your spring crops and work on your planting plans.     


Greetings Michigan school gardeners— In case you need to convince someone:

Benefits of School Gardening

Reposted from:


The past decade has witnessed substantial growth in the number of school gardens in the U.S., led by the state of California which has called for a garden in every school. In the Tampa Bay metropolitan area, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties, it is unclear exactly how many school gardens exist at the present time, but there does seem to be a trend toward developing new school gardens. Many schools have become aware of the multiple benefits of school gardening for students, teachers, schools, and communities.


Benefits of School Gardening for Students

1) Educational benefits

Gardening offers hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in a wide array of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, math, language arts (e.g., through garden journaling), visual arts (e.g., through garden design and decoration), and nutrition. With recent concern over relatively weak science and math skills among American children, the need for innovation in science and math teaching is apparent. There is mounting evidence that students who participate in school gardening score significantly higher on standardized science achievement tests (Klemmer, 2005). Further research along these lines can be found at Cornell University's Garden Based Learning website and at the California School Garden Network.


2) Environmental stewardship and connection with nature

Richard Louv's 2005 book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder is a call to action. A close connection with nature can be therapeutic in addressing attention deficit disorders and other problems faced by so many children today. Locally, Dr. Peter Gorski, chief pediatrician at the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, has recently affirmed the need to: "reverse the dangerous disconnection between children and nature – dangerous for children's health, for their growth and development and for their opportunities, over time, to preserve a healthy society." By deepening children's sense of connection with nature, school gardening can inspire environmental stewardship. When children learn about water and energy cycles, the food chain, and the peculiar needs of individual species, and when they feel a sense of connection to a certain species or individual plant, they have a reason to care about all the forces that impact that plant's future. A garden offers many occasions for achieving insight into the long-term human impact on the natural environment. From the water shortage to the over-use of pesticides, children who engage in gardening have first-hand opportunities to observe the importance of conservation and intelligent allocation of resources.


3) Lifestyle and Nutrition

With children's nutrition under assault by fast food and junk food industries, and with only about one-fourth of Florida adults eating recommended quantities of fruits and vegetables, it is no wonder that nearly one-third of Florida's 10-17 year olds are reported to be overweight or at risk for being overweight. School gardening offers children opportunities for outdoor exercise while teaching them a useful skill. Gardens containing fruit and vegetables can also help to revise attitudes about particular foods. There is mounting evidence that active learning in less structured, participatory spaces like gardens is more likely to transform children's food attitudes and habits, and that school gardening, especially when combined with a healthy lunch program or nutritional education, encourages more healthful food choices. Students are more likely to try eating vegetables they have grown themselves and to ask for them at home (Morris & Zidenberg-Cherr 2002). When students take their preferences back to their families, they can help to improve family consumption choices.


Benefits of School Gardening for Teachers, Schools and Communities

1) Active learning and student engagement

Gardening activities can help to engage students in learning in a way that is more difficult in the classroom. Gardening allows surprises to arise when insects land in the vicinity, when plants are afflicted with mites or fungus, or when the weather surprises everyone and disrupts the plan for the day, for example. These surprises show that nature is in control and they give students immediate and personal reasons for wanting to know the answers to pressing questions.


2) Student attention and class management

Because of the engaging nature of garden learning, students with attention deficit and other disorders often find it more suitable for their learning styles. Teachers report fewer discipline problems when science is taught in this sort of experiential manner, for example. Teachers develop useful concepts, such as "invisible walls," to create a sense of boundaries when learning in the garden.


3) Teachers as gardeners

Teachers themselves also learn useful gardening skills when they incorporate gardening into their lesson plans. These skills can be transferred into their own homes and social networks, thereby benefiting their own health and the health of their families.


4) Connection to history and the community

Gardening ties students to the social and material history of the land. Gardeners from the community can be brought in to demonstrate local, traditional gardening techniques and the traditional uses of particular plants. Gardening offers many opportunities for connecting with local history by incorporating native plants and plants grown during specific historical eras.



5) School pride

Like a team sport or mascot, gardening can offer a symbolic locus of school pride and spirit. Gardening offers schools a way of helping children to identify with their school and to feel proud of their own individual contribution. Children know which plants they helped to grow, and they feel proud of them. This can improve school spirit and children's attitudes toward the school.


Sources Consulted

  • California School Garden Network
  • Cornell University's Garden Based Learning
  • Dobbs, Kathleen, Diane Relf, and Alan McDaniel. 1998. Survey on the needs of elementary education teachers to enhance the use of horticulture or gardening in the classroom. HortTechnology 8(3):370-373.
  • Florida Department of Health
  • Florida Farm Bureau
  • Kiefer, Joseph, & Kemple, Martin. (1999). Stories from our common roots: Strategies for building an ecologically sustainable way of learning. In G.A. Smith & D.R. Williams (Eds.), Ecological education in action. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Klemmer, C.D., Waliczek, T.M. & Zajicek, J.M. (2005). Growing Minds: The Effect of a School Gardening Program on the Science Achievement of Elementary Students. HortTechnology. 15(3): 448-452.)
  • Louv, Richard (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.
  • National Survey of Children's Health
  • Ozer, Emily (2006). The Effects of School Gardens on Students and Schools: Conceptualization and Considerations for Maximizing Healthy Development. Health Education and Behavior 7.
  • Morris, Jennifer, & Zidenberg-Cherr, Sheri. (2002). Garden-enhanced nutrition curriculum improves fourth-grade school children's knowledge of nutrition and preferences for some vegetables. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102(1), 9.
  • Skelly, Sonja and Jennifer Bradley. (2000). The importance of school gardens as perceived by Florida elementary school teachers. HortTechnology 10(1):229-231.



Starting and Sustaining a School Garden workshop at the MSU Tollgate Education Center & Farm

By Kristine Hahn


Teachers, administrators and volunteer leaders can learn how to create and implement effective school gardens by participating in the Starting and Sustaining a School Garden Workshop at the MSU Tollgate Education Center & Farm on April 15, 2016.


If someone told you that there is a tool that can increase the effectiveness of our schools, provide outdoors, hands-on learning for our children, and improve children's food choices, you would probably ask, "Where do I sign up?"  When thoughtfully designed and implemented, school gardens can deliver on all of these benefits and more.  Teachers, administrators and volunteers can learn how to create and implement this kind of successful learning environment at the Starting and Sustaining a School Garden Workshop held Friday, April 15, 2016 (Tax Day!) from 8:00 am – 3:15 pm at the MSU Tollgate Education Center and Farm located at 28115 Meadowbrook in Novi, MI 48377.


Participants will learn from Michigan State University Extension faculty, staff and local experts presenting on a variety of topics including Connecting to the Garden with Technology, Best Practices and Curriculum Connections, Funding the School Garden, Seed Starting, Building Raised Beds Cheap & Easy, Curriculum Options for Your School Garden and much more.  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. 


Online registration is open at


The registration fee for the workshop is $75.00 and includes resource materials, morning refreshments, afternoon lunch, invaluable connections with knowledgeable staff and teachers, and many additional resources.  Partial scholarships are available upon request – please contact Kristine Hahn at 248-802-4590 or 


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

compiled by Kaitlin Wojciak

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 twice per year for new organizations, the next one is August 1. For returning organizations (those funded in the last 10 years), the deadline is May 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 September 30th for (2017) spring and summer 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

Fuel Up to Play 60

Applications open in April, due in June

K-12 schools participating in the National School Lunch program and Fuel Up to Play 60 are eligible to apply.  Awards are up to $4,000 per year.  Find more information 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

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

compiled by Kristine Hahn


  • GREENHOUSE 101 on Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

    Downtown Market Grand Rapids

    435 Ionia Ave. SW

    Grand Rapids, MI  49503


    Register online at:

    Designed for K-12 teachers and administrators but registration is open to all. This class will help guide you through establishing a successful school greenhouse. Topics to be covered: plant selection, irrigation, temperature control, planting process, and cleaning procedure.  Fee:  $20.00

  • DETROIT HOOPHOUSE FARM TOUR on Sunday, March 20, 2016

See successful Detroit hoophouses up close as spring begins.

TO REGISTER:  Please contact Jessica Simons for more information and/or to RSVP at 517-851-2372 or via email - You may also register online. Registration is encouraged, but not required. Please feel free circulate this information widely within your own networks.


Light refreshments will be available.


  • STARTING AND SUSTAINING A SCHOOL GARDEN TOLLGATE on Friday, April 15, 2016 (Tax Day!) at the Tollgate Education Center and Farm, 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, MI 48377  Online registration is open at


The registration fee for the workshop is $75.00 and includes resource materials, morning refreshments, afternoon lunch, invaluable connections with knowledgeable staff and teachers, and many additional resources.  Partial scholarships are available upon request – please contact Kristine Hahn at 248-802-4590 or


  • FARM TO CAFETERIA CONFERENCE on June 2-4, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin.  Cafeterias in schools and early care and education locations, colleges and universities, hospitals and other institutional settings serve tens of millions of Americans every day, placing the farm to cafeteria movement at the forefront of the fight to end obesity and strengthen local food systems. Join us for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference and see how you can change the culture of food and agricultural literacy across America.  Registration Details at:

  • LIFELAB WEBINARS For subjects & dates, visit:


Learn more at or contact us at

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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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