April 2004 Newsletter

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Second Maine School Garden Network Workshop 3/13/04

Let’s Keep Growing was held March 13, 2004,at MOFGA’s Education Center. Don White & Steve Tanguay of Troy Howard Middle School; Kathy Murray, State Entomologist; Ron Adams, Gorham’s Director of School Food Service; Kathy Savoie, Extension Educator; and Susan Linscott, editor of a new K-12 gardening curriculum, presented the second successful workshop to an enthusiastic audience of more than 60! Be sure and be among the next workshops participants in early Fall, 2004!

Theme Gardens

Many schools have found that theme gardens are a great introduction to gardening for their students. In this issue the spotlight is on butterfly gardens. The University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension has a excellent pamphlet, “Landscaping for Butterflies in Maine” Bulletin #7151, as a part of its habitat series. It covers how to create and design a successful garden, a detailed list of suggested plants for both butterflies and their larvae, and a helpful resource list.

Another good reference particularly for the adult contingent contemplating a theme garden, is Barbara Damrosch’s updated “Theme Garden”. Ms. Damrosch gardens here in Maine with her husband, well known organic farmer Eliot Coleman, and is a readable, reliable source of solid information particularly geared to our climate.

Butterfly Events

Butterflies of Maine– July 24, 2004. 9:00am-2:00pm, member $8 adult, $4 child, nonmembers $10 adult & $5 child Gilsland Farm. Reservations necessary.

Clay Taylor from Sarovski will be at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth to help explore the world of butterflies. He will show a slide show highlighting Maine’s butterflies and offer tips on identification, and then lead a walk to observe butterflies foraging in the field.

Gardening to Attract Butterflies

May 12,–7-8:30pm $8 member $10 nonmember Gilsland farm. Reservations necessary.

Margi Huber will discuss what plants will grow best in your yard to attract a variety of butterflies all season and will provide you with a few designs for butterfly gardens.

Butterfly Slide Show (free) July 8. 7:30pm–Fields Pond Nature Center

Enjoy the beauty of butterflies up close. Learn what flowers they like to sip from and which plants caterpillars chomp on. Then find out how to participate in the North American butterfly count, July 10, 2004, all day. Walk 3-5pm sponsored by Fields Pond Nature Center, led by Patricia Snider, 8253379 dorine38@aol.com $4

New schools in the Network

Sedgwick School, Peace Garden
, Sedgwick ME 04676
Brooklin School Garden, Brooklin, ME 04616
Rangeley Lakes Regional School Garden, Rangeley, ME 04970
Cascade Brook School Garden, Farmington, ME 04938
Bonny Eagle Middle School Garden, Buxton, ME
C.A.P.E. Calais Alternative Program of Education,
 Calais, ME 04619

Bangor Flower Show Winners

Congratulations to Orono’s Asa Adams enthusiastic elementary school children who won prizes at the Bangor Flower Show. In the “Kids Grow Too!” competition the kindergarten classes took second place for Grass Critters made from stockings filled with soil with grass seed planted for hair. Mrs. Gautier’s class took first place for Spring Egg Gardens (a clever use for egg shells!). Mrs. Jordan’s fifth grade “Greenhouse Bunch” took first place in Crop Circles (Plastic plant holders with a rock design surrounded by growing grass). Fifth grader Cassie Bragdon won the “Trees are Great for Towns and Cities” poster contest.

Guide to School Greenhouses

Many of you have asked for help developing a plan to include a greenhouse in your school garden development plan. The National Gardening Association has a very helpful booklet which lists some initial questions you should ask in thinking about the project. “Planning Homework Questions” is a good starting point. It discusses what you need to do before even thinking about a greenhouse, i.e. teachers and students should be comfortable with growing plants indoors. It covers setting up space, maintaining proper conditions, tackling pests and diseases, and how to develop objectives and activities for your students.

National Gardening Association 1100 Dorset St., South Burlington, VT 05403 800-538-7476www.kidsgardening.com

You Are What You Eat!

Participants at the MSGN Spring workshop had the opportunity to sample activities from the new “You Are What You Eat” curriculum, developed by UM graduate students, revised and edited by Susan Linscott. A few teachers around the state are piloting portions of the curriculum. Their experiences will contribute to further refinement of this valuable K-12 resource. If you are interested in participating in the pilot project, please contact Mary Bird (mary.bird@umit.maine.edu) for further information and a copy of the curriculum.

Two New Interesting Service Learning Projects

The Calais Alternative Program of Education (C.A.P.E.) is a nontraditional educational program that services about 60 students. We are working with local and community business professionals to connect studies with service projects in a non-traditional environment. This project encourages students to accept community ownership through personal, academic, and civic participation with the creation of two community gardens.

Each garden activity will provide a separate workforce, skills, and knowledge for lifelong self sustaining opportunities, along with encouraging students to plant, tend, and harvest a vegetable garden and create flower beds.

Fresh vegetables are distributed to the elderly community and the local food pantry. The flowers are used in a waterfront beautification project to prepare for the annual International Festival.

This project specifically encourages the spirit of cooperation, consultation, community pride, and achievement between participating at-risk students and experienced and knowledgeable community members.

One of the unique aspects of this type of project is having at-risk students work together with elderly community members in the garden project. This is beneficial to both the students who work on social skills and to the elderly who are interested in gardening but may not be physically able to tend to all of the garden needs

Keith Ogden 545-8143 or e-mail ogdenkeith@hotmail.com

Sustainable Agriculture Project Takes Root at MDI HS

While it is true the sloping granite Mount Desert Island landscape is not ideal for cultivating crops, it is also true that despite these limitations, the towns of MDI have had a rich agricultural heritage and exciting new developments are linking our schools, farms, and communities. The Sustainable Agriculture Project (the SAP) at MDI High School is a new project providing opportunities for our youth to play a vital role in agricultural development on MDI. It began as part of a community planning initiative, MDI Tomorrow, which brought together local residents to identify and address crucial questions about the future of our region. During brainstorming sessions, many participants saw integrating farming and gardening into our schools as a solution that could help address multiple areas of concern from community health to sprawl on the island. Through subsequent meetings involving school administration, teachers, parents, local growers, students, and community members, the SAP became a school-community project focused on using Service-Learning to create opportunities for our students to learn skills in Community Development and Sustainable Agriculture Leadership. Service Learning as a teaching style has proved invaluable on numerous start-up projects.

Dustin Eirdosh, a senior at College of the Atlantic, has been coordinating this school-community project as part of his senior project. The SAP has developed a two tiered approach involving students in sustainable agriculture: Community Food Assessment and Community Food Production. Thus far, the SAP has involved two classes, Research Seminar in Global Issues and Food and Nutrition, in the Community Food Assessment piece of the program. Community food assessment projects link students with community organizations working on food and agricultural issues and challenges students to use their knowledge to benefit the organization. Students have created a school wide survey of their eating habits, worked on the development of a community kitchen using locally grown foods, and done research for the historical society.

Community Food Production projects challenge students to develop lasting improvements to the island and high school food systems through planning, experimentation, and entrepreneurship. Current food production projects include: Working with the Hancock County Planning Commission using Vermicomposting (composting with worms) to help curb Bar Harbor’s summertime food waste and provide valuable worm castings and compost tea.

Students have built “Grow Tubes” (10 pieces of PVC pipe with long segments removed on the sides) and are growing organic salad mix in their science classroom. These tubes have been filled with organic soil mix and are now producing a bounty of healthy delicious mesclun mix, right in the classroom!

“Our integrated dual focus on food production and assessment at the community level has provided a strong framework to develop exciting projects that benefit our community while providing meaningful learning experiences for our youth. Combining this vision with the Service Learning pedagogy has strengthened our program practices and allowed for broader involvement from teachers who might otherwise not have seen a connection. These concepts, combined with the truly exciting technologies of vermicomposting and the grow tubes promise to deliver a harvest that is as educational as it is nutritional!”

Funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Project at Mount Desert Island High School has been provided by: Maine Initiatives, The Harvest Fund, The KIDS Consortium, MDI Tomorrow, and Healthy Acadia, a Healthy Maine Partnership.

Dustin Eirdosh deirdosh@coa.edu