“It was an honor for the Hall School to host the Maine School Garden Day and all the dedicated educators that gave up their Saturday to play with new gardening ideas for their garden programs. It was a wonderful day!”
– Mary Dunn, 5th Grade Teacher and Garden Leader at the Albert S. Hall School
We couldn’t have said it better.
Seeing the Growth at Maine School Garden Day
Mary and her students are growing the garden program step by step. This year, the school was approved to be a host site for Food Corps, meaning they received one additional staff member to promote and support the school garden program and farm-to-school activities. Service-member Sam McClean has been an incredible asset to the program, expanding the reach of the garden into many other classrooms and creating a garden club with over 100 students involved at recess and after school. We were lucky enough to learn the worm song from Sam, who was able to get teachers and students of all ages wiggling like worms out in the schoolyard.
The collaboration between the Hall School and Colby College was highlighted in the keynote address by operations manager Joe Klaus, who believes wholeheartedly in the work Mary and her students have done. He manages the student-run gardens at Colby and has worked with Mary to supply resources and overcome challenges, creating a wonderful partnership between two passionate organizations in the community.
One more supporter we should mention: Barbara Jordan, the principal at the Hall School, was awarded School Garden Administrator of the Year for all of the great work she’s done to help the garden overcome many obstacles, from providing financial support to getting water to the crops. Thank you Barbara!
The schedule consisted of longer morning sessions including presentations on soil science, bee keeping, season extension, and outdoor garden activities. Lunch was a hit as always – the lasagna and crisp came up a lot in the feedback! – a HUGE thanks to Just So Catering. The afternoon sessions seemed to be popular as well, as participants were able to rotate between different hands-on activity stations, which they could take home and use in their own classrooms and gardens. We also saw many examples of the potential for expanding school gardens through the MAITC Grant program – applications are due June 9th this year and could help grow your program!
One more (virtual) round of applause to everyone at the Albert S. Hall School for putting on another great Maine School Garden Day event. We hope you enjoyed it and if you were unable to join us this year, we hope to see you at the next one!
A bit about the Albert S. Hall School Garden Program
The Albert S. Hall School is located in the heart of downtown and that has caused many gardening challenges for them over the years. But the school staff, including garden advisor and 5th grade teacher Mary Dunn, have remained determined to make the gardening program succeed. That determination has paid off! This small school, right in the center of the city of Waterville, is almost completely surrounded by asphalt. There is no long driveway flanked by green lawns, like many of the other schools across our state. Mary and the ASH School Garden Club have found creative ways to use they space they have wisely included gardening in raised beds, in containers, and under indoor grow lights.
Last year students planted and grew 100 onions in a raised bed to donate to the local homeless shelter and their school cafeteria when the onions all disappeared! Since over 60% of the Hall School students receive free and reduced lunch they were very disappointed. Responding to an article in the local paper that went viral on the internet, over 1,000 pounds of onions were donated to the program from as far away as Washington State, including spring sets from a very generous New York onion farmer to re-plant the following season.