Blog Archive

Monday, June 11, 2018

June 2018 School Garden Newsletter


June 2018

Hope your garden and your students are thriving in our beautiful belated Michigan spring.


Gardening education increases vegetable consumption among youth

By Kaitlin Wojciak


School garden advocates have multiple anecdotes that they can share to point to the value of including experiential garden education in curriculum and educational programs. They talk about how their students are more engaged, more willing to interact with the subject matter, more likely to eat the food they grow, and sometimes even more likely to eat other produce items. Beyond anecdotes, there have been relatively few research studies that address the benefits and effects of engaging with school gardens. But researchers are working to change that.


Over the last decade or so, there have been an increasing number of research studies looking at the impacts of school garden education. When the results of these studies are compiled, trends and recommendations are more meaningful. And the experts agree. The Center for Disease Control has a panel of appointed experts that address public health issues. The Community Preventative Services Task Force (CPSTF) provides evidence-based findings and recommendations about community preventative services to improve public health. The task force decided to focus on school gardens last year, ratifying a report that reviewed several recent research studies in December of 2017 entitled Nutrition: Gardening Interventions to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Children.


The task force conducted a systematic review of 14 recent studies that investigated gardening interventions for youth. The studies were conducted in a variety of settings with youth ages 2-18. Study sites included early care and education, schools, afterschool programs and communities. Studies were conducted in 4 different countries – the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.


Results showed that gardening activities increased youth consumption of vegetables and fruits in 13 of 14 studies. When the results were analyzed in relation to increasing vegetable intake alone, 12 of 14 studies showed an increase. Interestingly, fruit intake alone did not change significantly for any of the studies. The amount of vegetable and fruit intake was increased when gardening interventions were combined with nutrition education interventions, rather than just gardening alone.


The results of this review show that there is increasing evidence that garden interventions for youth can and do have an impact on increasing healthy eating habits. The review specifically recommends pairing gardening and nutrition interventions for increased success in fruit and vegetable consumption. Other recommendations included involving parents and caretakers in interventions and to share healthy eating messaging in the home, extending the garden education opportunities in harsher climates through season extension techniques, and hiring a garden coordinator when possible that is dedicated to the upkeep and coordination of the garden.


While this review is something that school garden advocates can point to as evidence that school gardens do have an impact – there is still a need for further research that investigates potential benefits of school gardens.


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 Pollinator Gardens

By Kristine Hahn


Pollinator gardens can and should be an important component of the school garden.  Pollination is often the very beginning of the food system, and, therefore, foundational content for all those that eat, including students.  Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world's crops and a significant majority of our wild plants to thrive.  Without pollinators, many plants—including some food crops—would die off.     


Pollinator gardens are populated by native flowering plants that provide food, cover, nesting and resting places to our native pollinators and beneficial insects.  Native plants are plants that were in this region before European settlement.  Our native wildlife – including pollinators – have co-evolved with these plants over time and are ecologically linked to, and often dependent on them. 


For example, each species of butterfly can only lay its eggs and their caterpillars can only feed on a specific plant or group of plants.  A well-known example of this dependence is between the Monarch butterfly and milkweed plants.  The Monarch will only lay its eggs and its caterpillars can only feed on the milkweed group of plants in the Asclepias genus.  Without the milkweed, the Monarchs cannot lay their eggs and complete their life cycle.  The same relationship holds for the Karner Blue butterfly and lupine plants.  These life cycles are easily observed in real time for a hands-on lesson in a pollinator garden with native milkweeds and/or lupines.   


For more information on specific butterflies and their larval host plants, see Michigan's Butterflies and Skippers: A Field Guide and Reference by Mogens C. Nielsen or visit Wildtype Nursery's Butterfly Plant List at


 Our most familiar pollinator is the honey bee, which was introduced by Europeans in the 1600s.  However, Michigan has many native bee species that play important pollinator roles in both agricultural crops and wild plants.


Many of our native bees are generalists, meaning they feed on whatever flowering resources are available.  However, some of our native bees are specialists, and they only collect pollen from a few closely related plant species or a particular group of plants. Installing the native plants utilized by these specialist native bees in your pollinator garden can increase your chances of observing the unique behavior of these Michigan bees.  For more information on Michigan native bees, see MSU Extension Bulletin E3282 Bees of the Great Lakes region and wildflowers to support them available at the MSU Extension Bookstore at


Many of these native plants have attractive flowers that can help beautify your school garden while providing functional habitat and ecology lessons.  So help support wildlife, outdoor education and your vegetable garden by installing a pollinator garden.


Finally, June is national pollinator month and there is a pollinator activity and lesson plan kit available at


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, see 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.
  • Greenworks Grants – Deadline to apply is September 30th
    • School and youth organizations are eligible to apply
    • Projects must incorporate service learning, exemplify student voice, involve at least one community partner, secure at least 50% matched funds (in-kind is acceptable), and be completed in one year
    • Awards are $1,000
    • Follow this link to learn more and apply
  • 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. 
  • Jump Start Healthy Changes GrantSpring 2018 deadline to apply is June 13th
    • K-12 Schools enrolled in Fuel Up To Play 60 and participate in the National School Lunch Program are eligible
    • Awards are up to $4,000
    • Funds are awarded for schools to implement at least one Healthy Eating Play
      and one Physical Activity Play from the Fuel Up to Play 60 Playbook.
    • Visit this link to learn more and apply
  • 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.
  • 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 $3,147 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


  • Teaching Science Outdoors:  Professional Development for the Curious Teacher


July 24, 25, 26

9:00 am — 3:00 pm



MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center

28115 Meadowbrook Rd. Novi, MI 48377



$100 — Light breakfast, lunch, snack, and journal included — Financial aid available


K — 8 teachers and informal educators


This three-day professional development workshop will guide teachers through the scientific process in an outdoor setting and provide them with the skills to meet expectations set forth by the Next Generation Science Standards.



Ellen Koehler — MSU Tollgate Education Coordinator — 248-347-3860 ext. 227

Financial Aid:

For more information and to apply for aid visit our website.



    American Horticultural Society

    July 11-14, 2018

    Ithaca, NY


    For registration rates and online registration, go to:


·       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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