Category Archives: School Garden News

Grasshoppers in the Garden

Grasshoppers are a nuisance. They feed on the green leaves of young plants and can defoliate an entire plant if left unchecked.

Barriers can be used to keep grasshoppers aways from your plants. One remedy is a cage made from window screen. The holes are small enough not to allow the grasshoppers access, but large enough to allow sunlight and watering.

Another type of barrier and great for larger areas is floating row covers. Floating row covers are made from a very lightweight material that lays right on top of your  plants. Water and sunshine get through easily, insects are kept out, including birds who may try to eat your freshly planted seeds.

floatingrowcover

Floating row covers can also extend a season by protecting plants from frost down to 28ºF.

For more info about floating row covers see info sheet from Washington St University Extension

10 School Garden Fundraising Ideas

Let’s face it, gardens cost money. We need seeds, tools, amendments, irrigation, and if we’re lucky, support staff. How are we supposed to pay for all this?

First, there are many grants that will help you get started. We have published our own list of school garden grants which we update periodically. However grants don’t last very long and after the garden is built there is yearly maintenance to contend with. The answer is fundraising.

The following are fundraising ideas specifically for your school garden. Give them a try. You can raise money and have some fun at the same time.

succulents in containers

1. Plant Sale – For a successful plant sale you can look for donations or you can make your own. Cuttings from existing plants will be the least expensive route. Succulents are great for this. Culinary herbs are also a great idea. My favorite is the Simon & Garfunkel herb garden (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme). Simply place them all into one container. You can also start from seeds, but just remember to give yourself enough time. Mother’s Day 2015 is May 10th, you will need to start your seeds at least 8 weeks prior.

2. Seedling Sale – Start vegetable plants from seeds to sell to backyard gardeners. Again, you will need to start the seeds approximately 6-8 weeks prior to your sale day.

3. Dried Herb Bouquets – Collect garden herbs such as basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, dill, etc and arrange into bouquets that you can dry by hanging upside down.

4. Seed Sale – Seed companies such as Botanical Interests, High Mowing Seeds, Fedco Seeds and Urban Farmer Seeds all have seed fundraising programs for you to take advantage of. You’ll make 40-50% of all sales.

5. Flower Sale – You can also now sell flower bulbs through FlowerPowerFundraising.com

6. Compost and Worm Castings – For those with compost and/or worm compost programs selling your finished product would be very beneficial to home gardeners. Compost is one of the best organic amendments available and worm castings is one of the best organic fertilizers.

7. Recipe Cookbook – Collect recipes from students, teachers and parents specifically for all the great produce you grow.

8. Seed Tape – Using strips of newspaper or paper towel and homemade glue (flour and water), we attach seeds to paper and when dry, we roll them up and put a bow on them. We can then plant the seed tape directly in the ground and our seeds will be perfectly spaced. This is particularly useful for small seeds like carrots and lettuce that need to be spaced a certain distance apart.

9. Garden Art – Paint garden signs, markers, decorative bricks, trellises, etc.

10. Farmer’s Market – With the proliferation of Farmer’s Market you now have an outlet for all of the above along with any produce or flowers you already grow. Use the following link from LocalHarvest.org to find a farmer’s market near you.

For more fundraising ideas see Funding School Gardens from CSGN.org

Good Luck!

School Garden Report from Upstate New York

Group photo in school garden

This spring, with a donation of plants from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, and a variety of seeds donated by Page Seed Company of Greene, NY, students planted tomatoes, green peppers, basil, parsley, onions, sweet potatoes, nasturtium, string beans, strawberries, herbs, and perennial flowers.

“I can’t wait to eat the strawberries,” exclaims Asma Butt, who participated in the group since its beginning last year.

The student group Girls on the Run has also contributed to creating and maintaining vibrant gardens on the Sidney Elementary campus. In May, Girls on the Run members worked to clean up the front flower gardens and plant new flowers in areas that were overrun with grass and weeds. The front gardens were further expanded in June with a donation of perennial flowers from the Hill and Valley Garden club of Sidney.

school garden students saving bean seeds

The food-to-school movement, which seeks to bring more locally grown, fresh food into schools, is gaining popularity with students nationwide. Not only does it address a need for healthier food and eating habits, but it can also connect those needs with an exposure to science education at its most fundamental level.

With a growing interest in growing their own food and working with plants, Green Thumb members are already looking toward next year. Mackenzie Dutton, a 3rd grader and avid gardener, wants to expand the gardening opportunities at the elementary school. “I’d like to do more field trips, more nature walks, and grow more food,” Dutton remarks.

Josh Gray, teacher and garden coordinator, adds, “Our future plans include expanding the gardens, putting in some dwarf fruit trees, berry bushes, creating a Native American food garden, a medicinal garden, and a butterfly garden. We’d also like to increase our cafeteria composting program, work with classroom teachers to integrate nutrition and horticultural education into the school-day, and eventually start providing students with fresh, very local, student-grown food. And then maybe get some chickens…”

More pictures and information about the Green Thumb Growers Guild are available at http://www.sidneycsd.org/GreenThumb.aspx

students in the greenhouse

School Garden Grant from Dole and Captain Planet Foundation

(January 29, 2014) – DOLE Fruit Bowls® and Captain Planet Foundation are teaming up to host the “DOLE Fruit Bowls & Captain Planet Foundation’s Learning Garden Challenge.” The contest will recognize schools (K-8) that have established school gardens that provide an occasion for learning, environmental stewardship and an understanding of the role that fresh fruits and vegetables play in a healthy lifestyle.

School officials, parents or volunteers involved with the existing learning gardens are invited to enter the challenge for a chance to win up to $5,000, a one-year supply of DOLE Fruit Bowls, and essential Learning Garden tools from Captain Planet Foundation, including a mobile garden cooking cart, learning garden lessons and lesson supply bins.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Captain Planet Foundation to honor environmental stewards across the United States,” said Stan Stuka, Senior Business Manager, DOLE Fruit Bowls. “We know that the best learning gardens have the power to teach students about good nutrition and how fruits and vegetables grow, even when they begin simply by planting seeds in up-cycled Dole Fruit Bowls.”

Bird Song – Free eBook

I have released my first eBook, Bird Song (BG Digital Publishing, 2013). As a special promotion for the holidays the book will be available as a free download for 5 days at the Amazon Kindle Store from December 11, 2013 – December 15, 2013.

Bird Song is a heartwarming story for all ages. Two birds, one with a broken wing, the other blind, must fly together on their migratory journey south. They encounter various adventures along the way and learn first-hand the power of song.

The promotion is a special gift for parents and children who enjoy quality reading time together.

After 12/15, the Bird Song eBook will be available for only $3.99.

To download your copy of Bird Song please visit, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZNOMRS

Bird Song Cover Image

Central Nutrition Center Breaks Ground on New Hoop House

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Local farmers, students, teachers and district staff all came together on October 19th to construct the district’s newest Hoop House. As a part of the district’s “Farm-to-School” initiative, produce grown in the new garden will be harvested for school cafeterias. The goal of this event was to educate students and the community on the benefits of good nutrition as well as creating a prolonged growing season with the construction of a hoop house.

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The event was organized by the Shelby County School Department of Nutrition Services in Memphis, Tennessee. For more information or volunteer opportunities contact the Central Nutrition Center at (901) 416-5550.

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Keeping a School Garden Journal

A School Garden journal is an invaluable tool, not only for the success of your garden but also for the myriad of experiments that can be done in tandem.

This is my entry for 10/5/13:

Bed 1 (B1) – Fava Beans germinated (broke through the soil), 1-2 days old. Germination took 10 days.

B2 – Lettuce germinated, about 3 days old. Germination took 7 days.

B3 – Beets and Swiss Chard both germinated. Germination took 7 days.

B4 – Aphids and eggs found beneath swiss chard leaves planted last year. Washed them off with a jet of water. See photo.

B5 – Something ate many of our Brassica seedlings (broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, bok choy). Not snails or slugs, no nub left over, no slimy trail. Will replant with floating row cover.

B6 – Peas, Carrots, Celeriac, Cilantro, Parsley sowed seeds 9/28, nothing yet.

Harvesting: last of the pole beans, swiss chard, kale, eggplant, Mexican sour gherkins, oregano, thyme, & chives.

Saved dried pods of pole green beans. Seeds were planted 5/15. Seed-to-seed was 19 weeks. Next year I want to get my sweet peas in earlier. If I want to plant them the third week in September (lets say, September 23rd), and I want to save seeds from the pole beans again, when should I plant the beans? This is one reason why we keep a journal. Can you think of some others?

Maybe this will help –
1. How Does My Garden Grow? Writing in Science Field Journals

2. School Garden Curricula

aphids and eggs

The yellow elliptical dots are the eggs. The black dots at top are the aphids