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


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.