Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November 2018 Michigan School Garden newsletter


November 2018

Hope everyone had a happy Halloween and are ready for Thanksgiving!


Connecting the school garden to curriculum standards

by Kaitlin Wojciak


Resources to address the challenge of offering experiential education and meeting content standard requirements ideas


As a food enthusiast, passionate about education, you are probably aware that using the school garden as a teaching tool provides a beneficial learning environment for your students. Most educators won't argue this point. However, a real challenge and barrier to implementing garden education is tying educational activities to curriculum standards, such as Next Generation Science Standards or Common Core State Standards. Commitment to offering an experiential learning environment, layered on top of the wide variety of topics that can be addressed through the garden keeps teachers working to connect their lessons to the garden. Yet many teachers go at this alone, or without resources on how to formally connect their lesson plans to the standards they are expected to incorporate and meet in their classrooms. With the stack of requirements that teachers must meet, it can be difficult to track down aligned curricula or organizations that can assist in creating content and standard alignment.


The purpose of this article is to provide a few resources that have done some of the leg work in providing national standard aligned activities that are either intended to be used in the school garden or offer education about agriculture and food systems, that complement garden education. The resources featured here are not an exhaustive list, just a sampling of some that will hopefully be useful.


Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom has a searchable database for agriculture related lesson plans, most of which can be connected to garden education, under the premise of connecting to the broader food system and agriculture. The database can be filtered by grade level, content area, agricultural literacy outcomes, common core connections, state specific content, and state origin (this is a national database). This page also offers a searchable database for companion resources that may enhance your educational efforts. In addition to these resources, Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom has a number of other resources for educators that are worth checking out, like the mobile FARM science lab that can visit your school!


The Growing Classroom, a curriculum created by the school garden centric California non-profit, LifeLab, has been connected to both the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards. Each lesson has been associated to national standards they connect with, all of which can be discovered via a searchable database. LifeLab also offers a number of other resources on how to connect garden education to the national standards, which can be found at this page.


The Whole Kids Foundation and the American Heart Association partnered to author a set of 35 free lesson plans that explore school gardens, fruits, vegetables and healthy eating for ages Pre-K through 5th grade. Each individual lesson states which national standards under Common Core and Next Generation Science which it covers. Additionally, each lesson offers lesson extensions for other content areas, literature connections and resources helpful to carrying out the lesson and associated activities.


School garden partners in Wisconsin have authored a brief document providing an overview of tying school garden education to curriculum standards, along with a list of curricula and activities that are aligned to national standards.


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).



Resources to Start a School Garden

by Kristine Hahn


A few target resources can be very helpful when starting a school garden


Starting a school garden can appear to be a daunting task, and many of the parents and teachers I have consulted with often don't know where to begin.  Many times a few helpful resources can provide enough direction to get a good start.


How to Grow a School Garden by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle is a comprehensive guide to starting a school garden without being overwhelming.  This book begins with the benefits of school gardens and goes directly into the very first crucial but often overlooked step of "laying the groundwork" where you organize a team of school and community members to support the garden from start to finish.  This "Garden Team" is the primary step to long-term success and sustainability.  The book proceeds to thoroughly cover the rest of the process including site design, groundbreaking, budgeting and fundraising.  It also covers the fundamental process of integrating the garden into the curriculum – an important step that is key to unlocking the immense potential of the school garden as an experiential educational tool.  Other topics covered are a sampling of year-round garden lessons and activities along with school garden recipes and a helpful resource list.


Another good school garden "starter" resource is the School Garden Wizard website at  This wonderfully accessible resource has lots of useful information including a template to create a proposal for your school garden, how to organize a "Vision Meeting", steps to forming a "School Garden Team" and how to provide a multi-sensory environment that supports a diverse range of learning styles and abilities.


University of Georgia Extension also has a website of School Garden Resources at that includes a shorter guide to starting a school garden called Steps in Starting a School Garden at which includes a nice timeline template for starting a school garden.


For those looking for a more Farm to School perspective on school gardens including finding and buying local food, the webinar video "Planning Toolkit – School Gardens" by the USDA at may be a good choice to get started.


These are just a few of school garden starting guides available and I hope you find them useful.  If you have further questions about school gardens, please contact Kristine Hahn at 248-802-4590.


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
  • Budding Botanist Grant Due November 19th, 2018
    • Title I public or charter schools in the United States are eligible
    • Applicants must be planning a new or expanding an existing school garden program designed to teach about environmental sustainability and the importance of biodiversity
    • Awards include a $500 curriculum and garden tool package and a check for $2,500 to install or expand a school garden
    • Learn more and apply here
  • 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.
  • Cartons 2 Gardens Contest Registration open, final submissions due March 29th, 2019
    • K-12 public and private schools are eligible to participate
    • Participants start by collecting at least 100 empty cartons from home, community or cafeteria. Projects will construct purposeful garden items and structures using the cartons.
    • 15 projects will receive award packages for their entries, including one grand prize valued at $5,000
    • Register and learn more at this link
  • Community Health Impact Grants Optional concept papers due November 29th, Applications due January 17th, 2019
    • Non-profit organizations recognized by the IRS, based in Michigan with a current certified financial audit and 1 FTE are eligible to apply. The State of Michigan and local units of government are also eligible
    • Proposals must address one of the eight focal areas, including access to healthy food and wellness and fitness programs
    • Awards range from $15,000 - $100,000 for one to two years
    • Read the full RFP and learn more here
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 2019 Youth Garden Grant Due December 17th, 2018
    • Nonprofit organizations, public or private schools and youth programs in the United States or US Territories are eligible to apply
    • Projects must plan on starting a new garden program or expanding an established garden program that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18
    • Winners are selected on demonstrated program impact and sustainability
    • The top five program awards will be a grant package worth $2,100. An additional 20 grant packages worth $500 will be awarded.
    • Learn more and apply here
  • 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

MSU Extension Tollgate Farm and Education Center

MSU Tollgate Farm's Annual Maple Tapping and Pancake Feast on March 9th and 10th, 2019! 


Stay tuned for more information - registration opens soon, and tickets sell out fast!




  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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