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Thursday, June 27, 2019

June 2019 Michigan School Garden newsletter


June 2019

Summertime in a Michigan School Garden – doesn't get any better than this!


Southeast Michigan School Garden Mini-grant

by Kristine Hahn


A cohort of dedicated educators is working hard to provide garden-based educational opportunities for their students in Southeast Michigan. This spring, 18 of these committed garden educators were awarded mini-grants to start, expand or deepen their school garden projects through Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension).


This year is the first year that MSU Extension is offering the Southeast Michigan School Garden Mini-grant program as a pilot project. The funding to support this project is generously provided by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and will fund two years of school garden mini-grants and support.


Schools and Early Care and Education sites based in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties were eligible to apply for mini-grants ranging between $500 - $1,500 to support their projects. Over 30 applications were submitted during the first competitive grant cycle. Ultimately, 18 schools and early care and education sites across the three counties were funded to support their garden programs. The program has the potential to positively impact the educational environment for 3,959 students ranging in age from 0 – 26. The grantees will receive grant funding, technical assistance and training through MSU Extension throughout the course of their one-year grant.


Garden projects were categorized as either planning or implementation grants. Planning grantees will focus their one-year grant on building a garden team and creating support systems for a future garden to thrive for many years to come. Implementation grantees will focus their one-year grant on either building or expanding their physical gardens, or deepening their existing garden project by adding a new facet to support their programs.


Many grantees represent schools that focus on providing job skills and vocational skills training for special needs young adults. These programs equip their students with the skills and confidence to find and successfully hold a job in the agriculture or culinary industry. Students assist with the entire process of propagating plants, garden maintenance, and harvest. A number of the schools then use their garden produce to cook, bake or create value-added edible products. Some creative schools are also crafting value-added products like herbed soaps, lip balms, sprays and lotions. 


Other grantees focus on the youngest eaters, exposing students that are pre-K age to how food is grown, harvested and used, creating healthy eating habits from the earliest ages. A number of the Early Care and Education sites are using the food that is grown in their existing gardens in their meal programs, so students reap the benefits of their garden education through nourishment in their daily meals.


This project was designed and implemented with the assistance of many dedicated community partners, including: Detroit Public Schools Community District, Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, Keep Growing Detroit, Macomb Intermediate School District, Michigan Farm to Institution Network and Michigan Farm to School, Oakland County Food Policy Council, Oakland Schools, and Waterford School District.


The full list of Southeast Michigan School Garden Mini-Grant Grantees follows. Congratulations to these dedicated programs that support their students to learn about food, agriculture, the environment and healthy eating through their school garden programs!


ABCs & 123s Home Daycare, Macomb County

A&W Daycare, Wayne County

Brewer Academy, Wayne County

Franklin Middle School, Wayne County

Grandview Elementary and GSRP, Wayne County

Green Garden Child Development Center, Oakland County

Independence Elementary, Oakland County

LACC Child Care Academy, Wayne County

Lamphere High School, Oakland County

Lincoln Center, Wayne County

Madison School, Wayne County

Flynn Transitional Center, Macomb County

Mixter Institute for Transition, Wayne County

Neil E Reed High School, Macomb County

Orville Krause Elementary, Macomb County

Patterson Elementary, Oakland County

Rising Stars Academy, Macomb County

St. Paul's Lutheran Church Early Childhood Center, Oakland County



How Do You Summer Your School Garden?

by Kristine Hahn

There are many good alternatives for getting your school garden through the summer.  Use the one that is best for you and your school.


Keeping a school garden alive during the summer can be a big challenge for some schools.  However, there are many viable methods for summer maintenance of a school garden, and there is one that can be a success for any school garden.


Summer school garden maintenance can especially be a barrier for newly established school gardens.  Keep it as simple as possible.  In some cases, this may mean not having a summer garden when school is out, but only plant cool weather crops in the Spring and Fall when school is in full swing.  Many assume that gardens are limited to growing crops such as cucumbers, squash, peppers and tomatoes during the summer months.  But there are many excellent fast growing cool weather crops that do best in the cooler temperatures of the Spring and Fall, such as peas, lettuces, cabbage, collards and many root crops.  Some crops such as carrots actually get sweeter from exposure to the cooler temperatures.  It is also a great way to get kids to try vegetables that they may not normally be exposed to, as children are much more likely to try vegetables that they have grown.


Some schools are able to schedule students and their families and community members to care for the garden during the summer months.  This is a wonderful way to get and keep families and community members involved in the garden.  But this summer maintenance method does require high involvement and some scheduling with regular reminders.


Districts such as Detroit Public Schools Community District are able to hire summer help to maintain school gardens during the summer months.  Not all districts (or individual schools) have this option, but if there are a large number of gardens in the district and funds are available, this choice can make the most sense. 


Sometimes summer school students and staff can assist in summer maintenance.  However, summer school rarely takes place during August, so that would require some scheduling of school families and community members to cover that high maintenance month. 


Some school gardens have a combination of community members and school participants gardening in it.  This makes the garden more flexible during the summer months and can involve the community participants assisting in maintaining the school plots or portion of the garden during the drought-prone months of July and August.


There are many combinations of the methods listed above that can work as well.  With a little flexibility and scheduling most school gardens can thrive during the summer.  So don't let the stumbling block of summer maintenance keep your school from having a vibrant garden – even if it is just in the Fall or Spring.



School Garden Grant Information


  • Annie's Grants for Gardens – Our 2019 Grants application period will be open from August 1, 2019 to November 1, 2019. Click here to access our Grant FAQs. 
  • 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 ecoSolution GrantCurrent cycle due on July 15
    • Schools, nonprofits and other organizations classified as 501(c) (3) are eligible
    • Projects must: support solution-oriented, youth-led projects that result in real environmental outcomes; be based in the United States; only support direct project costs.
    • Award range is between $500 - $2500.
  • 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.
    • 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
  • The Samull Classroom Herb Garden GrantCurrently open
    • Private and/or public elementary schools for grades 3-6 are eligible. Classes must have a minimum of 15 students.
    • Awards are up to $200 to establish an herb garden
    • Follow this link to learn more and apply
  • 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. National Children & Youth Garden Symposium

register now and be prepared to be inspired by your colleagues from across the country who are engaging in new and innovative ways with kids in the garden.


  1. MSU Extension Master Gardener Programs

    MSU Extension Master Gardener Training Courses are typically offered starting in January, March and August in several locations around the state.

  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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