September 2015 Newsletter

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September in the Garden

Summer has flown by and students have returned to school. Hopefully your school garden has been productive over the summer months and volunteer help has been adequate. Consider holding a thank you food event for the teachers, staff, kids and their families who volunteered over the summer to care for the gardens. If not food related, find some way to thank all of those who helped maintain the gardens.

September is a month of new possibilities for school gardens, to involve more students and teachers, expand in size, add new structures like compost bins or a rain barrel, recruit more volunteers and community support, expand garden related curriculum in your classroom, publicize and promote your garden projects, etc. For example, consider starting an after school cooking club once or twice a week, using garden and local produce when available. Connect with your local technology gurus or use your own tech skills to promote your school gardens by developing or updating your website, starting a blog, posting pictures of kids and staff gardening, making a garden related video, etc.

Finalize plans for your School Garden Open House Day. Remember it can be held anytime during School Harvest Lunch Week, September 21-27th. Coordinate with your food service staff and encourage them to use and highlight school and locally grown produce in their menu during this week.

Take your new class out to the gardens as part of their orientation to the new school year. Think of the garden as an outdoor classroom where many or all subjects can potentially be taught. Begin with a garden scavenger hunt, a seven senses activity, an introduction to garden tools, drawing or sketching in the flower gardens (art class). Pick zucchini or carrots and have your class make a sweet bread or muffins, etc. 

Recruit new members to you garden committee and hold your first meeting of the year. Set regular meeting times, places and dates for the year. Plan and set realistic goals, both short and long term.

Last but not least, remember to continue involving students in the planning and planting of cool weather crops like lettuces, spinach, radishes. Remember to have them help with harvesting produce as it matures, weighing and recording how much of each crop, offering it to the food service and/or donating it to your local food pantry. Share the results with administrators, food service personnel and school board.

Annual Meeting

Please join the board of the Maine School Garden Network at St. Mary's Nutrition Center for our annual meeting. This is your chance to contribute feedback and make suggestions for our work in the upcoming year. Tell us about your program, learn about the Lots To Gardens program at St. Mary's Nutrition Center, enjoy a meal catered by the youth participants, and join the conversation!

We would also like to invite you to meet with us at Whiting Farm in Auburn prior to the meeting for a tour of their educational gardens and greenhouse. It is a short (~3mi) distance from St. Mary's and will be held from 3:00-4:00pm.

RSVP here.

School Garden Open House

Consider planning a School Garden Open House Day with your garden committee, to be held sometime during Harvest Lunch Week, September 21-27.

Why should you hold an Open House?SGOH1

  • You can show off the hard work you put into your gardens this season.
  • Kids can shine by giving tours, showing a video they made of the garden, leading a game or activity, etc.
  • You can get publicity and support for your gardening efforts.
  • It’s a good way to recruit volunteers for the school year.
  • Holding it is a great school community activity.

Here are some things you can do during your Open House:

  • Have food samples
  • Take pictures to share with students, their families and staff members
  • Have music or do an art project
  • Ask your local paper to cover the event with a story and pictures
  • Play garden related games
  • Hold a raffle
  • Decorate pumpkins
  • Give tours
  • Invite School Board members

Contact the Maine School Garden Network website for more ideas and resources at:

Savor the Season


Savor the Season - A Food Preservation Weekend at Blueberry Cove 4-H Camp and Learning Center, Tenant’s Harbor, Maine October 2 – 4, 2015
Spend a fall weekend

learning the latest, USDA-recommended methods of home food preservation using produce from the camp gardens

​ orchard​
​, and local farms​


​Lodging and ​delicious 


are included. Savor the Season is a fundraiser to benefit Blueberry Cove Camp


and is supported by UMaine Extension Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver Volunteers. Learn more here.

Online registration is available at
Please notify in advance if you have any food allergies, dietary restrictions or special requirements.

Pre-registration is required. The deadline for registration is Friday, September 25, 2015.

Maine Farm to School Conference

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 2.01.35 PM


Harvest Lunch Week Contest

You are invited to participate in our 2nd Annual Harvest Lunch Week Contest! Last year was a great success and we want to continue to highlight and recognize our Farm to School champions.   

Maine Harvest Lunch Week Contest

“A Fresh Take on Schools Meals”


The Harvest Lunch Week Contest will be evaluated based on the five “MAINE” criteria:


M: menu offerings

A: appearance on the tray

I: involvement of students and community

N: number of local products used

E: environment of the cafeteria

Contest details:

 Submit one Harvest Lunch menu per school

Submit three attractive lunch tray pictures to support menu          

Supporting documentation for student involvement (pictures, email description) i.e., students involved in harvesting produce or hands-on food

Supporting documentation for cafeteria environment (pictures, email description) i.e. local items labeled in serving line, harvest theme decorations

Send all menus, pictures and supporting documentation to Stephanie Stambach at at close of business Friday, October 2, 2015

Evaluation team will review information and notify contest winners the week of October 5, 2015

Why should you participate?

All entries will be recognized as Farm to School champions

Winners will be recognized during a short presentation at the Fall Info Meeting on October 15, 2015

Details on the Top 3 prize winners forthcoming

Please contact Stephanie if you have any questions.

Pollinator Garden Challenge

Home Garden Seed Association

The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

Who can participate?

Anyone with a garden, large or small. Even a container garden can serve pollinators.

How can a gardener participate?

First, plant a garden that provides pollen and nectar sources. Then, register your garden through the Pollinator Partnership

What do you need to know and do to succeed at pollinator gardening?

1. Use plants that provide pollen and nectar.
2. Provide a water source, such as a small water garden or bird bath.
3. Situate your pollinator garden in a sunny site with a wind break.
4. Have plants that bloom continuously throughout the season.
5. Do not use pesticides near your pollinator plants.

How can I find out what to plant?

Go to and click on “planting guides.” When you enter your 5-digit zipcode, you will be able to access a planting guide for your location.

 PolliNATION: Home Garden Seed Association is proud to be a member of the National
Pollinator Garden Network, a partnership of 25 organizations that has launched a nationwide
call to action