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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March 2018 Michigan School Garden newsletter


March 2018

Count down 'til Spring school gardeners!  Woo Hoo!  Be here before you know it.




Starting and Sustaining a School Garden 2018

by Kristine Hahn


It is that great time of year again to be planning the school garden!  Positively channel that excitement for the upcoming school garden season by attending Michigan State University Extension's annual school garden conference, Starting and Sustaining a School Garden on April 20, 2018!


We have a content-packed and hands-on day planned for all and registration is available at:


This year the conference returns to its original location of the wonderful Michigan State University Tollgate Education Center and Farm, located at 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, MI 48377.  And Dr. Norm Lownds, Director of the 4-H Children's Garden will be our keynote speaker sharing his wisdom of "25 Years of Working with Children in the Garden".


There will be a "Whole Group Investigation" that all attendees will participate in and will allow for continued contact beyond the conference. Timely break-out sessions include "Exploring Phenomena in the Garden" with separate sessions for the elementary, middle and high school levels.  There will also be several sessions outside in the gardens at Tollgate including "Themed Gardens", "Garden by Design" and "Edible Plants in the Garden". 


See a full listing of all the break-out sessions at the online flyer:


There will also be opportunities to ask questions and network with the workshop educators, other attending teachers, school garden staff and volunteers.  Feel free to download the above linked flyer and agenda to share with any other interested school garden people such as, parents, administrators and fellow educators.


A limited number of partial scholarships are available.  Contact Kristine Hahn at 248-802-4590 or for a scholarship application, any questions about Starting and Sustaining a School Garden Conference, or to schedule your own school garden site visit or a professional development session at your school.  Hope you can join us for lots of fun and learning on April 20, 2018 at Tollgate!


This article was published by Michigan State University Extension and the staff in the Community Food Systems Workgroup who support Farm to School activities including school gardens.  For more information, visit .  To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit .  To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).



Think spring with seed starting activities

By Kaitlin Wojciak


It's that time of winter when Michiganders begin to crave fresh green growth and the feeling of the warm sun on our faces. In some parts of the state the winter continues to drag on, yet we find ourselves searching for tiny tree buds or evidence of plant shoots emerging from the ground (even if it is still covered in snow).


In the classroom, students feel the same cramped up energy from spending most of their time inside for several months. One way to collectively alleviate some of the cooped-up tension is to plan seed starting activities for your students. On the light side, these starts can be a strategy to get back in touch with greenery before spring has truly sprung.  From a production framework, the starts could be used in the school garden once the weather is suitable for that transition. Regardless, introducing the smell of potting mix and observing the process of a seed sprouting will bring refreshment to school staff and students alike as the countdown until spring continues. From a practical standpoint, these activities can be used to meet educational standards for each grade level, including the Next Generation Science Standards.


Many older school buildings throughout Michigan are lucky to have greenhouses attached, which are perfect for this type of activity. If the greenhouse is not currently being used, an assessment of its condition is advisable. Ensuring that there is some air circulation and at least a moderate level of cleanliness will aid in keeping seed starts alive, lessening the risk for disease introduction. For specific questions and recommendations, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office for advice. Using the greenhouse environment will allow your class to experience a change of setting, some warmer temperatures, and gain agricultural and food related experience, even if it is casual.

For schools that do not have greenhouses, a low-tech solution is starting seeds on a classroom windowsill or using fluorescent lights if the classroom doesn't have windows. Having the seed starts in the classroom offers students a chance to track the plants' progress from day to day and encourages regular care throughout the week since they are in sight.


There are many considerations to follow when starting seeds specific to both seed needs and working with students, particularly younger students. A few key considerations adapted from this Indoor Seed Starting Q&A resource at, are below. For a much more extensive list of recommendations, visit the resource linked above.

  • Use shallow seed starting vessels with drainage holes. These can range from transplant production trays to egg cartons or individual yogurt cups. Just ensure that whatever container you use has holes to allow the water to pass through the bottom.
  • Soilless transplant mix is preferable to soil, as it is specifically designed for starting seeds, lessening the risk of weeds sprouting and disease introduction.
  • Start with moist soil and maintain a regular watering schedule for the seed starts. Misting the starts will help maintain the seed placement, rather than using a watering can or bottle.
  • Plant the seeds according to the instructions on the seed packet, paying attention to seed depth.
  • Establish a planting area in your classroom (or elsewhere), using plastic or another covering to minimize the mess.
  • Consider using age appropriate seed sizes. For instance, bigger seeds for younger students, like beans.


Remember, anyone can do these activities. Regardless of what facilities, equipment or resources are available to you at your school, there is a wide spectrum of how seed starting activities can look. If paying for resources is an issue at your school, consider requesting donations from home and garden stores – many are willing to provide assistance to area schools.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).



School Garden Grant Information


  • American Honda Foundation - Due dates three times per year
    • 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
  • Captain Planet Foundation
    • Schools, nonprofits and other organizations classified as 501(c) (3) are eligible
    • Projects must: be project-based; performed by youth; have real environmental outcomes; be based in the United States.
    • Award range is between $500 - $2500. At least 50% matching or in-kind funding for projects is preferred.
  • Carton 2 Garden ContestDue April 16th, 2018
    • Schools are eligible to participate in the contest
    • Classrooms collect milk and/or juice cartons from the beginning of the school year, re-purposing the cartons to create a project that will build or enhance your school garden.
    • 14 Schools with the most creative use of cartons will be selected for a range of prizes. Award ranges from $5,000 - $1,000 in value.
  • The Home Depot FoundationCommunity Impact Grants currently open
    • Schools and 501(c) (3) organizations are eligible.
    • Awards are up to $5,000
    • 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 Charitable and Educational Foundation
    • Public schools are eligible
    • Awards from $5,000 - $25,000
    • Visit this link to answer preliminary questions and learn more.
  • NIFA's Agriculture in the Classroom ProgramDue May 1st, 2018
    • State agricultural experiment stations, State cooperative extension services, all colleges and universities, other research or educational institutions or organizations, Federal and private agencies and organization and individuals are eligible to apply.
    • Projects should focus on increasing agricultural literacy through science literacy, agricultural careers, nutrition, and professional development opportunities for teachers.
    • Award range is $0 - $500,000
    • Full RFA available at this link
  • Project Produce Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schoolsdistributed 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.
  • Salad Bars to School Grant
    • Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program is eligible to apply. To qualify for a Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools grant, applicants must offer the salad bar as part of the reimbursable meal served in your district.
    • Schools use the award (approximately $2,955 value) to implement salad bars as part of their daily meal program
    • For more information and to apply, follow this link.
  • Youth Micro-grants through Karma for Cara FoundationRolling deadline
    • Youth under age 18 who are working on a community service project (including school and community gardens).
    • Awards are between $250 - $1,000.



School Garden Educational Opportunities


  1. Starting and Sustaining a School Garden 2018 Conference – April 20, 2018

The 2018 Starting and Sustaining a School Garden Conference is fun, content packed and hands-on!  The conference is scheduled for Friday, April 20, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will return to the original location of the wonderful Tollgate Education Center and Farm, 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, MI 48377.  See all the great break-out sessions on the flyer and register at:  Contact Kristine Hahn at 248-802-4590 or for more information.  Hope you can join us!



  • 2018 All About Food — March 20, 2018

The 2018 "Farm to Fork" All About Food Conference event is scheduled for March 20, 2018 from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm and will be held at a new location this year: Macomb County Family Resource Center, 196 North Rose St, Mount Clemens, MI 48043. This is the former Washington Elementary School and is located behind the Mount Clemens Ice Arena. Registration is open through March 16. Scholarships are available. Contact with questions.


  • 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

    April 26-27, 2018 // Cincinnati, OH

    Save the date for the 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference


    coming to Cincinnati, Ohio, April 26-27, 2018! Hosted by the National Farm

    to School Network, The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is the only national gathering of

    stakeholders from across this movement, making it the premiere opportunity

    to learn, network and collaborate with likeminded leaders from across the

country. Learn more and sign-up for updates at

·       SAVE THE DATE:  JULY 27-29, 2018

2018 Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) Conference + Hoʻōla ʻĀina O Māʻilikūkahi Youth Food Sovereignty Congress

The University of Hawai'i – West Oahu Sustainable Community Food Systems Program, the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association, the University of Hawai'i System Office of Sustainability and key community partners will host the 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Conference and the Hoʻōla ʻĀina O Māʻilikūkahi Youth Food Sovereignty Congress on the island of Oʻahu from July 27-29, 2018.


Themes: Indigenous knowledge, decolonization and socio-ecological resiliency in agroecology and sustainable food systems education.

  1. MOFFA (Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance) Educational Opportunities
  • North American Association of Environmental Educators Professional Development






Kristine Hahn

Michigan State University Extension Educator

Community Food Systems

Oakland County Office

1200 Telegraph Rd. #26E

Pontiac, MI 48341


*Please note my new office location

MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer.  Michigan State University programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status.

"Always be humble and kind." - Tim McGraw


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