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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April 2020 School Garden newsletter


April 2020

Happy Spring School Gardeners!  Many school gardens are closed due to the pandemic, but there is an EXPLOSION of online educational opportunities – and it’s a great time to plan for a Fall school garden.



‘Victory Gardens ’ Born Out of Corona Virus Pandemic

By Liz Crampton, POLITICO Pro Agriculture’s morning newsletter

Re-printed with permission

The outbreak has sparked a desire among people — many for the first time — to grow their own food, and they’re flocking to garden stores to stock up on seeds and practical knowledge.

As the economy faltered and some grew worried about food security, Nate Kleinman, a farmer and community organizer, saw an opportunity to build a movement modeled after the wartime fruit and vegetable plots, The New York Times reports. During WWII, school and community gardeners produced close to 40 percent of the country’s fresh vegetables, from about 20 million gardens.

Of course, there is no evidence the U.S. food supply is unstable — despite infamous shots of empty grocery store shelves shared across social media this month. But many have compared the coronavirus outbreak to a war-like experience, as people hunker down out of safety.

Whether it's out of a concern about food access, or just a new hobby to keep people occupied while quarantined, community gardening is booming. Since just last week when the Cooperative Gardens Commission was formed, Kleinman heard from more than 1,000 people interested in getting involved in community gardening.

“This is a rapidly forming collective that’s organizing to help match resources to needs in the agriculture space, especially in community food production,” Kleinman said Thursday on a call with participants, which are held biweekly for people to swap ideas and provide updates on the movement.

Seed stores across the country are reporting record-high sales. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, based out of Mineral, Va., has seen an approximate 300 percent increase in orders since March 15. Rejoice Blackwood, an employee at Southern Exposure, said orders for spring and summer planting typically drop off at the end of March.

“Even though we aren’t done with March yet, we are making many more dollars than we would have expected, and we were required to shut down our website for three days because our inventory couldn’t keep up,” Blackwood said.

High Mowing Organic Seeds in Vermont has had a similar experience. “It’s been insane,” said employee Sara Riegler, of the uptick in sales. “I’ve had way more conversations with folks who have never gardened before and want to get into it.”

School Garden Grant Information


  • American Honda Foundation - Due dates three times/year current cycle due on August 1
    • 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 Grant Current cycle open from Mar 15 - Jul 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
  • 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

  • Virtual School Garden Education Sessions 2020

Join us for a series of Michigan State University Extension free virtual school garden education sessions! The target audience for this series is formal and informal educators including school and community garden organizers. This series of four interactive, educational garden sessions will be offered every other Wednesday starting May 6 through June 17, 2020 at 10am. By registering for the entire series, you will be able to attend each session using the same link.

May 6 at 10am: Cool Kid Plants: Plants Every Kid Should Know and Grow with Norm Lownds. Are you looking for kid tested and approved plants for your school or home garden? This session will highlight a number of interesting, easy to grow plants that engage kids and get them growing!

May 20 at 10am: Pollinator Gardening with Children with Ellen Koehler. What are pollinators, and why are they important to us? How can we help pollinators? School and community garden leaders join us to explore ideas and resources for place-based learning about plants, pollinators, and pollination.

June 3 at 10am. Planning the Fall School Garden with Kristine Hahn. Learn about the best crops to grow and some important considerations when planning a fall school garden in the narrow window from September - November.

June 17 at 10am. Cover Crops for School Gardens with Will Jaquinde. Between social distancing and limited access to schools, cover crops are a low maintenance option to control weeds, improve soil, attract beneficial insects and more! Learn the basics on how to plant and manage cover crops to get the most out of them for this season and beyond.

Register to participate in the series here:

Please contact Kaitlin Wojciak ( with any questions.








  • Cornell Garden Based Learning:  webinars and online horticulture classes


  • Life Lab Webinars: School Garden webinars and other resources


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


  • National Farm to School Network COVID-19 Information and Resource Hub


  • National Gardening Association Online Vegetables and Annual Flowers Course


  • National School Garden Network Best Practices Webinar series – usually FREE

o   Check out their upcoming and archived webinars


  • School Garden Support Network Covid-19 Resources


  • Teaching in Nature’s Classroom Online Course

May 18 – August 28, self-directed



Michigan State University (MSU) Extension helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. For more than 100 years, MSU Extension has helped grow Michigan’s economy by equipping Michigan residents with the information that they need to do their jobs better, raise healthy and safe families, build their communities and empower our children to dream of a successful future.


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