September 2004 Newsletter

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A Harvest of Garden Activities

In Brooks, Maine, Tammy Toothaker and her kindergarten students are embarking on their second year of vegetable soup gardening. In addition to participating in classroom experiments with their fourth grade “science buddies” last spring, the kindergarten students grew and sold plants to raise funds for their greenhouse and garden supplies. They also planted pumpkin seeds around the greenhouse. This fall, the pumpkins will be used for the harvest unit.

At the Morse Street School in Freeport, Maine, children in kindergarten through grade four plan, plant, and tend 2 x 6 foot raised beds. Each class is responsible for one bed. What each class plants in spring, however, will be harvested in fall by the next generation of students in that room, linking the entire school community through the garden’s cycle of growth. Jane Weinstein is the contact for this project, which involves not only the children and their teachers, but also parent and community volunteers.

Brewer, Maine, is the site of the new Penobscot Landing Children’s Garden. Children, teachers, and community leaders collaborated with architects, landscape designers, education specialists, and nursery workers to design and construct integrated garden spaces that are connected to literature, native culture, and other themes. Ground is currently being prepared for several educational plots within the garden, where plantings will vary in response to specific teaching goals within the community. Andrew Sachs, Economic Development Director for the City of Brewer and contact person for the project, will be sharing information at the MSGN conference on October 16.

Let’s Keep Growing: Fall Conference Scheduled for Saturday, October 16

Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, Maine, will be the site for the third conference of the Maine School Garden network, to be held Saturday, October 16, from 8:30 – 3:30. As in prior gatherings, there will be interactive workshop sessions, a catered lunch, and networking roundtables. The featured tour for this fall’s meeting (by popular demand!) will take participants through the Troy Howard Middle School’s successful garden operation, including vegetable gardens, orchard, and greenhouse. Though the garden and orchard will be settling down for winter and the greenhouses will have just been replanted, there will be lots to learn from one of Maine’s most exciting school garden projects!

A very special feature of this fall’s conference will be the keynote address by renowned garden author Sharon Lovejoy. As author of “Sunflower Houses,” “Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots,” and many other books and essays about joyful gardening, Sharon will share her experience and insights on gardens as centers for learning.

The conference registration fee is $25.00, which includes catered lunch and materials packet. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available to participating educators for an additional fee of $5.00. For registration materials, please contact Mary Bird at 207-581- 2434,

Fall is a great time to get started with a garden project: Survey your site for sunlight, drainage, and traffic patterns. Have soil tested for lead and other toxins, as well as needed amendments. Line up community volunteers NOW for spring, and begin fundraising.

Finding Funds for Your Garden Projects

There are numerous sources of funding for school and community gardens, and many local, state, and national organizations that provide support. It can be helpful to join an electronic listserv that distributes grant information as one of its resources.

The Rural School and Community Trust is a national network that offers, among other services, a biweekly online notification of conferences, awards, resources, and grant opportunities. Listed recently were the following funding sources that could be applied to school garden projects:

Maurice R. Robinson mini-grants for K-12 service learning. School gardens that provide food or other services to the community may be eligible. Amount: $500. Deadline: October 15, 2004. For information: robin.html

Captain Planet foundation grants to support youth environmental projects. Amount: up to $2,500. Deadline: September 30 (quarterly). For information:

National Education Association grants to individuals and groups to support collaborative efforts for “creative, project-based learning.” Amount: $2,000 (individual) and $5,000 (group). Deadline: September 15. For Information: programs/grantguides.htm

The Ezra Jack Keats foundation provides mini- grants to schools and libraries for programs that “encourage literacy and creativity in children.” Amount: $350. Deadline: September 15. For information:

There is no charge to become an affiliate of the Rural School and Community Trust, a terrific resource for place-based education. To find out more about this organization and its services, and to subscribe (at no cost) to its online and print journals, visit

Closer to home, the MaineScience Listserv offers educators in Maine a wide array of resources. Conferences, workshops, teaching materials, and grant opportunities are among the many listings that will arrive in your emailbox on an almost daily basis. Among recent listings specifically relevant to school garden funding was this notice from Pat Maloney, coordinator of Maine Project Learning Tree:

GreenWorks!, PLTs service-learning program, continues to accept grant proposals for the upcoming year. Grants, ranging from $50 to $1,000 to implement community action and service-learning projects, should address an environmental issue and involve students from pre-school to high school. The GreenWorks! program encourages participants to form partnerships with groups, businesses, or organizations within their communities to help implement and sustain their GreenWorks! projects. Some examples of past grant projects include stream dean-up, graffiti paint-over, outdoor classrooms, gardens (butterfly, vegetable), and schoolyard restoration. Visit and additional highlights. DEADLINE: Proposals must be postmarked by September 30th. Award notifications will be sent approximately 6 weeks after the proposal deadline of September 30th.

To join the MaineScience Listserv, register at:

The National Gardening Association lists many grant sources on its educational website, Included are Youth Gardening Grants, Hooked on Hydroponics equipment awards, the Room to Grow Juliana Greenhouse Grant, and the 2004 Organic Schools Contest, with cash awards up to $1000. Deadlines are approaching, so visit the NGA website to learn more!