Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December 2018 Michigan School Garden newsletter


December 2018


Happy Holidays Gardeners



Save the Date for the 2019 Starting and Sustaining a School Garden Conference

By Kristine Hahn


As the arrival of seed catalogs turn your thoughts towards spring, be sure to save the date of May 10, 2019 for the Starting and Sustaining a School Garden conference!  Registration for the conference will be available by mid-January, 2019. 

School gardens can spring up anywhere – a schoolyard, an empty lot, a rooftop, even a parking lot. They are a powerful tool to connect youth to the natural world and beyond, regardless of setting, demographics or learning style. Be prepared to help make those connections by attending the 2019 Starting and Sustaining a School Garden conference.     

Seasonal Learning in the Garden will be the theme for the conference to assist educators in coordinating their curriculum with what is going on in the garden. There will be break-out sessions by season and by grade level, and all activities will be connected to the Next Generation Science Standards  (NGSS). 

The conference agenda will be content-packed and participants can expect a day full of hands-on fun and educational activities. Dr. Norm Lownds, Director of the 4-H Children's Garden will return to the conference this year with a session on Technology in the Garden. There will also be break-out sessions on Seed Starting, Garden Planning, Indoor Growing and much more!

The conference will be at the beautiful Michigan State University Tollgate Education Center and Farm, located at 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, MI 48377. 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 May 10, 2019 at Tollgate!


Think spring! Plan now for a school garden project

by Michelle Walk

It is time to think spring and school gardens! Start by forming a team, gathering input, and developing a plan that works for how you intend to use your garden. There are many grants available to help start school garden projects but your garden plan should include strategies on how to maintain and fund the project beyond the start-up phase as this is where many projects struggle. This article includes some items for consideration as you plan your project.

Start by forming a garden team to help with the planning process. Your team should include teachers and staff interested in using the garden or expected to help with maintenance. This would include school administration, teachers, food service staff and maintenance staff. You should also consider including parents and community volunteers that would have gardening experience or have an interest in supporting the project in other ways. Depending on the grade levels that will be involved this is also a great opportunity to engage youth in the planning process.

Determine how you plan to use your garden. Is it intended to be an exploration activity for young kids, connected to science lessons where experiments might be included, or do you plan on using a majority of what is grown for taste testing or cafeteria use. This is important as it may affect the layout of your garden, the supplies you need and training for items such as food safety. School gardens can easily serve multiple grades and multiple uses if proper planning occurs in the design stage.

Determine when you plan to use your garden. Will it be only during the school year? Do you have a summer program that could also utilize the garden? Is there a community group that could utilize the garden during the summer or volunteers (including Master Gardeners) that would help maintain it? There are ways to put a garden to bed properly during times it won't be used (winter or summer) to minimize weed build up and make it easier to get the garden back into production when you are ready to use it.

Understanding siting and construction considerations is critical in making the growing season as productive as possible. Items to consider include access to potable water, sun exposure, wind, and soil conditions. Raised beds and small hoop house structures are always an option as well. If looking at a hoop house structure you have the additional consideration of winter maintenance and snow removal.

Lastly, now that you have your plans in place for how you will use your garden, develop a budget for what is needed. In addition to any building materials you will want to include items such as seeds, harvesting tools, and containers for plant starts. 



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.
  • Cartons 2 Gardens ContestRegistration 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
  • 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. 
  • Katie's Krops Grower Grant ­– applications due by December 31st
    • Youth ages 9-16 are eligible to apply
    • Winners will receive a gift card to start a garden, technical assistance, garden supplies, and more
    • Winners are also eligible to win scholarships for higher education
    • All produce grown must be donated to community members in need
    • Learn more and apply here
  • 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.
    • 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


  • SAVE THE DATE:  May 10, 2019


Starting and Sustaining a School Garden at Tollgate in Novi, MI

MSU Extension's Annual School Garden Conference

Stay tuned for more information - Hope to see you there!


  1. MOFFA (Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance) Educational Opportunities
    •  LOTS of organic farming workshops and conferences in Michigan






Best regards,

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


Friday, December 14, 2018

MI Farm to School Newsletter for December

Dear Michigan Farm to School subscribers-

Hoping this finds you well as we make our way through December and toward the new year. As a native of Michigan, my childhood memories of winter are filled with recollections of snow and winter celebrations filled with food—it is always wonderful to hear from others about their favorite memories of this time of year as well. This month's newsletter highlights some innovative resources and thought-provoking articles that are helpful for our work as we move forward into 2019.  With that, please accept my thanks for the work that each of you do every day for Michigan's children.




Michigan Fruits and Vegetables Feed and Educate Kids

Second Wave MI

The 10 cents a Meal program is not only helping local farmers sell their produce at markets, but finding a different outlet for their sales. Thanks to the program, farmers are connecting with schools in 43 of 83 Michigan counties to bring nutritious and locally grown produce to students.


New Farm to School menu at Florida High School 

Fox 35

A Florida school is increasing students' excitement about agriculture at the same time it is providing healthy food and creating future jobs in the form of a commercial farm that would provide food for all of the school cafeterias and potentially hire students upon graduation. In one year, over 600 pounds of cucumbers, 200 pounds of tomatoes, and 200 pounds of lettuce were produced, which was provided to the school with extra given to students to take home to share with their families.


Farm to School: Growing Achievements in Vermont

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Brandon Lipps, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, shares in his blog about his recent trip to Vermont and how farm to school programs can strengthen the community and connect students to local farms. Not only is the Vermont farm to school program educating students about the produce they enjoy eating, but also providing revenues that are keeping farms alive.


Dorothy Grady-Scarbrough Pioneering to End Hunger in the U.S.

Women's Day

With one in five households experiencing hunger in Mississippi, access to healthy food has been problematic in part because of limited availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables. However, a group called Mississippians Engaged in Greener Agriculture (MEGA) is working with communities to encourage gardening and increase access to healthy, local food in communities. This includes funding for 57 school gardens in the past two years with additional funding to start 25 more, as well as educational activities to coincide with gardening activities that are extended to families.

What School Lunches Have to Do With Fixing Wealth Inequality

Yes! Magazine

Anupama Joshi, co-founder of the National Farm to School Network, suggests using innovative ways to think about the food system, starting with how we feed students in our school lunch rooms. One way in which the National Farm to School Network has found success is through their collaboration with a wide range of national organizations to connect schools with local farms, retaining local dollars in communities, starting onsite school gardens, and increasing "farm fresh" meals in schools. By changing the culture of food within communities, a shift in policy change can occur at the local, state, and national level. At the same time, it may create more equity among farmers and offer healthier food choices for students.




Youth Garden Grant 2019

Deadline: December 17th, 2018

For years the Youth Garden Grant has been supporting schools and youth educational garden projects that could impact the lives of not only the students, but the community around them as well. The top five program proposals selected based on demonstrated programs with impact and sustainability will be awarded $1000 in cash with additional gardening tools and supplies.


Katie's Krops Garden Grower Grant

Deadline: December 31, 2018

Katie's Krops Garden grants enable students to learn about gardening as well as nutrition, budget management, and life skills. Intended for children ages 9-16, grantees must donate the harvest to the community and submit photos and documentation of their hours. Learn more and apply here.




National Farmers Union's Women Conference

January 13th – 17th, 2019 // San Diego, CA

The National Farmers Union's Women Conference is intended to help create a network of women working in the agriculture community. Workshops include financial management, food safety, innovative marketing conservation, and other sessions specifically for women farmers and ranchers.


Green Apple Day of Service

Join schools and communities in celebration of an international movement. Acknowledge the key the role that schools play in facilitating the preparation of future generations as global leaders in sustainability. Register your project by March 15, 2019 to participate.


Canada's National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

March 15-17, 2019 // Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Building on the success of the 2015 Changing the Menu conference, this event scheduled for May 15-17, 2019 is designed to advance activity to bring more healthy, local, and sustainable foods into the minds and onto the plates of students in preschools, schools (K-12) ,and campuses across Canada. For those who would like to share their work, the deadline to submit proposals is December 20, 2018. 




Video: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Farm to Head Start Video

The implementation of Farm to Head Start is not increasing the amount of children who eat fresh healthy produce but is also helping local farmers and the community in a positive way. View this video highlighting the partnership between the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties as well as the Hmong American Farmers Association, CKC Good Foods, and Bix Produce to see how Farm to ECE has positively influenced children, farmers, and the entire community.


2018 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey: Full Report and State Level Data Now Available

The National Farm to School Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems surveyed early care and education providers across the nation earlier this year to better understand the current landscape and reach of farm to ECE, including the application of activities, motivations and challenges. Responses were collected from 2,030 providers serving 255,257 young children in 45 states and Washington, D.C. and found that farm to ECE is reaching far and wide across the country. This survey has provided the only current national-level data available on farm to ECE participation and trends. A report with survey analysis, state level survey data, and additional resources highlighting the results, including an infographic and fact sheet, can be downloaded at


New Farm to School / Farm to ECE Resources in Spanish

In an effort to make Farm to School information more accessible to more people, The National Farm to School Network has translated its fact sheets into Spanish to increase accessibility of Farm to School information. Titles such as Farm to School AdvocacyLocal Procurement for Child Care Centers, and Local Purchasing for Family Child Care Providers as well as more than 35 non-English and bilingual farm to school resources and materials are now available in NFSN's Resource Library.


Slow Food USA and Whole Kids Foundation: Garden to Cafeteria Toolkit

Using the safety protocols and building off the successes of five school districts across the U.S., the Garden to Cafeteria Toolkit offers templates and step-by-step guides for school districts to develop their own processes for integrating gardens into their cafeterias. The toolkit is made possible from a partnership between Slow Food USA and Whole Kids Foundation and is available for free.


A Guide to Using The Creative Curriculum® to Support Farm to ECE Models

The Policy Equality Group has developed two guides available on the National Farm to School Network website. These helpful resources were developed to support early care and education providers using the Creative Curriculum to integrate Farm to early care and education for infants, toddlers, and twos.


Local Food for Little Eaters: A Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Guide to Local Food Purchasing

The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is pleased to announce Local Food for Little Eaters: A Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Guide to Local Food Purchasing, as well as profiles of successful farm to Migrant & Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs nationwide. This guide gives step-by-step instructions and interactive tools that MSHS programs can use to begin purchasing and using more local foods. The companion piece, Farm to Migrant and Seasonal Head Start in Action, offers case studies highlighting Migrant & Seasonal Head Start programs nationwide that, through local foods, are reflecting and celebrating the cultures of children and families they engage.




Executive Director, National Farm to School Network (Remote) 

National Farm to School Network seeks a dynamic, values-driven and collaborative leader as Executive Director. The Executive Director leads innovation and strategic growth toward accomplishing the mission of the organization. Location is flexible (anywhere within the U.S., with preference for proximity to Washington, D.C.). The deadline to apply is Jan. 7, 2019.


Project Coordinator, Maine Farm to School Network (Gardiner, ME)

Maine Farm to School Network is seeking a Coordinator to oversee implementation of the Network's strategic plan priorities while advancing farm to school strategies and partnerships across the state of Maine with the goal of increasing procurement of Maine produced foods by schools, experiential agricultural education, and school gardens. 


Castanea Fellowship

The Castanea Fellowship is looking for dedicated leaders ready to deepen the impact of their vision to build a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable food system. The Fellowship is for established leaders who are already equipped with a deep understanding of how the food system could shift in a meaningful way and have had considerable impact, yet know they could do much more. The leaders we seek are those who have demonstrated commitment to the work, understand racial equity, believe in the power of diversity, and welcome collaboration. 


Multiple Positions, Healthy School Meals Initiative, FoodCorps (New York, NY or Portland, OR)

FoodCorps works in underserved communities to teach students about healthy food using hands-on lesson plans and experiential learning, collaborating with communities to create a life-long culture of health, and partnering with farmers and food service workers to create healthy school meals. Currently, they are seeking a Network Director and a Senior Director at the national level for the Healthy School Meals Initiative. 




Meagan K. Shedd, PhD
Assistant Professor, Farm to Early Care and K-12 Education
Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University
Department of Community Sustainability | College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
480 Wilson Rd, Room 309 | Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824-1039
517.432.4525 | |





Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Call for proposals: Macomb Food Momentum Conference

Reminder that session proposals are due on December 17th!


Macomb Food Momentum Conference Call for Session Proposals


The Macomb Food Collaborative is now accepting session proposals for the 2019 Macomb Food Momentum Conference being held on March 22nd from 8am - 4pm at the Family Resource Center in Mount Clemens.


Speaker search:

The 2019 conference theme is Macomb Food Momentum (previously this event was called All About Food: From Farm to Fork). We seek conference speakers who can offer engaging sessions to illustrate growth, change, transitions or needs to be addressed in our food system. There will be two types of sessions offered at this year's event:

  1. Presentation. A 60 minute presentation related to the theme, which should be engaging and participatory. Panels are acceptable. Hands-on activities are encouraged, but not required.
  2. Facilitated discussion. A 60 minute session that will focus on a particular need or gap to be addressed in the local food system, facilitating solutions-based discussion. The intent is that participants will leave with actionable items from these sessions. Applicants are encouraged to apply in a team of two or more. The conference planning team can assist with recruiting interested and active participants for these sessions.


Complete the online submission form no later than COB December 17th, 2018. You will be notified regarding selection in early January.

For more information, email the Macomb Food Momentum Conference co-Chairs, Kaitlin Koch Wojciak, at, Nicole Urban at or Carolyn Thomas at Be sure to also connect with us at or on social media, on facebook and on Twitter at @macombfood.


Sponsorship opportunities:

Please see the attached sponsorship letter for opportunities to support this important food systems event. This is the 8th annual food systems conference hosted by the Macomb Food Collaborative, providing a regular space for food systems stakeholders to convene, learn and share,  benefitting food system development in Macomb County, the region and the state.


Please feel welcome to share this information broadly.



Kaitlin Koch Wojciak

Michigan State University Extension Educator

Community Food Systems

21885 Dunham, Suite 12

Clinton Township, MI 48036

Work: 586-469-6088

Cell: 313-695-7746


MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer.  Michigan State University Extension 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.




Monday, December 10, 2018

Michigan Family Farms Conference 2019- Register today!

Register today for the 16th Annual Michigan Family Farms Conference! The theme for this year is What's in Your Shed? Tools for Agricultural Success. Our conference offers beginning, small-scale and culturally diverse farmers a chance to network, learn, and build sustainable family farms. We are excited for all the great topic this year including specialty crop production, labor laws, how to choose a market and much more! Join us on February 9, 2019 for this dynamic conference with keynote speaker Melvin Parson.
To take advantage of early bird discounts and register before December 31 at

MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Job Posting: Food Service, Beaver Island

Please help us spread the word that Beaver Island Community School is hiring a Food Service Coordinator. This is a school interested in local, farm-fresh product and is a recipient of 10 Cents a Meal this current school year.

Deadline Dec 11, start date January 2, 2019.

QUESTIONS: Call Wil Cwikiel, Principal/Superintendent at 231-448-2744

Apologies for any cross postings.


JEN SCHAAP  |  Local Food Policy Specialist
Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

P    231-941-6584 x708
A  313 Howard St, Unit B  |  Petoskey, MI 49770

pronouns: she/her/hers

The Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities is a Traverse City based non-profit. Our work is member-funded and community-driven. Protect what you love. Become a member of Groundwork today.
MIFARMTOSCHOOL is a listserv that links farm-to-school stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan, from school food service directors and school administrators to growers and distributors. Content posted to MIFARMTOSCHOOL does not necessarily reflect the views of Michigan State University or the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.