February 2013 Newsletter

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Happy February! With school vacation behind us, it’s time to be thinking spring. The snow will soon melt, and mud season will be upon us once again. The sap will be running, and collected, to make a delicious Maine staple: maple syrup. If you haven’t attended an event before, make sure to mark your calendars for Maine Maple Sunday on March 24. There are many events happening around the state, both on Saturday and Sunday. Go to get real get maine to find out more opportunities to celebrate a Maine tradition on a farm near you.

Each month, I would like to highlight a specific topic to discuss as part of a school garden. This month’s theme is:

Obtaining Supplies and Funds for your Garden

Before thinking about supplies and funds, has your school developed a plan/steps for the garden? In order to procure funding, donors and investors want to see a support network in place and plans for implementation for sustainability. Make sure your plan has a strong base before collecting supplies to create the garden.

Step One: Create a garden list. This list should include expenses for supplies and materials, but may also include expenses for operations, maintenance, curriculum, and miscellaneous items. Be as specific as possible. This list will give donors the confidence that your garden is well organized and planned. Things to include on the list are:

plants (seeds or seedlings)
soil/compost
fertilizer
mulch
irrigation supplies
child sized tools and gloves
stakes and row markers
curriculum books and resources

Step Two: Seek Donations. Prepare a project folder to present to local businesses. The contents should be simple and informative. Include a letter of support from the school administration, a description of the garden project, a list of garden supporters, a list of garden needs, and personal appeals (letters or drawings) from students. In thinking of local businesses, think beyond asking for money. Ask for lumber, hoses, gloves, or time donations. Ask parents to look in their garages/sheds at home. Ask a local farmer rototill the soil for you instead of investing in the machinery. Collect seeds from a seed company at the end of the season at reduced prices. They can’t sell them past their expiration date, but seeds kept cool and dry will last several years. Two seed companies right here in Maine are Fedco and Johnny’s seeds.

Step Three: Fundraisers. It isn’t easy to ask for money. Selling something can be even harder. But with a little creativity and perseverance, it doesn’t have to be a roadblock.

One local school orders seeds in bulk from Fedco. The school then orders small manila pockets. In art class, the students design stamps and stamp individual pockets. For example, the students would create a pea stamp, stamp 100 pockets with the pea stamp, and fill the pocket with a select number of seeds. Then, the students could sell the hand made seed packets for profit. Not only is this a great fundraiser, but it also shows the commitment among the staff and students, and is a fun art project. Perhaps a local business would create counter space for the sale of some seed packets, or have a seed table at school sporting events, art nights, music performances, etc. Next year, community members will be asking in December when they can expect to buy seed packets from the school.

Step Four: Seek Grants. Finding the time to write a grant for your school garden can be daunting. But splitting the job among several interested parties, or creating a template to be used for future grants can alleviate some of that burden. The MSGN posts grant opportunities as we hear about them, but you can also try http://www.grantwrangler.com.

Upcoming grants that we know of are:

February 28: Captain Planet Foundation

Captain Planet Foundation supports hands-on environmental projects for children and youth that encourage innovative programs to empower children and youth around the world. http://captainplanetfoundation.org/apply-for-grants

March 7: Mantis Award Program

The NGA and Mantis will give 25 charitable and educational garden programs a Mantis Tiller/Cultivator with border/edger and kickstand and the choice of a gas-powered 2-cycle engine or electric motor. http://grants.kidsgardening.org/2013-mantis-tiller-award

April 2: Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. http://www.paemst.org/controllers/about.cfc?method=view

April 15: Dorothy Stout Professional Development Grants

Dottie Stout was the first female president of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) and a strong supporter of earth science education at all levels.

http://www.nagt.org/nagt/programs/stout.html

April 15: McCarthey Dressman Academic Enrichment Grants

The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation offers Academic Enrichment Grants designed to develop in-class and extra-curricular programs that improve learning for students from low-income households. http://www.mccartheydressman.org/academic.html

April 30: AIAA: Grants for Science and Math Programs

K-12 teachers who develop or apply science, mathematics, and technology in their curriculum may qualify for a grant of up to $250 per individual request to supplement their learning program. https://www.aiaa.org/Secondary.aspx?id=4184&terms=grants