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Issue No. 2
February 2012
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Growing and Learning 

In This Issue
Take Our Survey!
Redwing Pond House Preschool Opens in Ansonia
Establishing Your School Garden
Why Seed Catalogs are Great Tools
Thalberg School Shares Its Garden
Tarriffville School Garden
New Curriculum Available
CT NOFA Workshops
CT NOFA Winter Conference
Global Environmental Sustainability Symposium
News and Notes
Common Ground Seeks Summer Teachers
Food Corps Recruiting Leaders
Grow Some Green for Your Garden

Quick Links

 

Welcome!    

 

This is the time to start planning your school garden, if you haven't done so already.  Here are some 

resources you might find useful. 

 

Books

Lincoln School Urban Oaks Allied World
Lincoln School Garden, New Britain, built with assistance from Urban Oaks Farm

 

If you want to know how many carrots or heads of lettuce you can fit in

a 100 square foot bed, How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons has the answer.  This widely-loved book, now in its 7th edition, is a classic. 

 

Jeavons has charts and diagrams that are perfect aids for planning how many seeds to buy and how much you can produce from that bed.  He provides possible  yields for beginning, more experienced and master growers.  His diagrams of how to dig, how to transplant and do other

basic garden operations are very clear.

 

Last year, Connecticut organic herb grower Sal Gilbertie published Small-Plot, High-Yield Gardening.  He provides clear techniques for maximum production of over 50 popular vegetables.

 

Both of these books are published by 10 Speed Press.

 

CR Lawn, founder of Fedco Seeds, said in an interview, "The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch gets my vote as the best current how-to garden book for any level from beginner to advanced."  Read the whole interview  for CR's suggestions for the best lettuce and pea varieties and his mature attitude toward what to grow.

 

Organic Methods

 

All of these books recommend and teach organic methods.  You want to use organic methods with your students because you don't want them handling toxic pesticides.  I suspect that you understand that it doesn't make sense to put toxic substances on food we want to eat or feed to our children.

 

Read more 

                                                                                                    

 

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Take oursurvery clip art survey!

Thanks to those who have returned our survey.  To those of you who haven't filled it out yet, we can still use your input! Please take a moment to answer these few

questions. Your feedback will help us create a vibrant and strong network.

 

 

                                                                 

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Redwing Pond House Preschool Opens in Ansonia

 

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RWPH students discover nature 

On a recent January day at Redwing Pond House Preschool in Ansonia, a class of 3- to 5-year-olds went on a hike. As they walked along with their teachers, the children were caught up in the thrill of discovery. They uncovered hickory nuts and acorn "hats" among the leaves and twigs. They were surprised to find out how soft the moss felt under their fingers. They were intrigued to observe the many colors of mushrooms and lichen growing on sticks. And they were intent in their search for frogs by the pond. This was no field trip for this class; this was an ordinary day of learning for them.

 

Redwing Pond House Preschool, a nature-based preschool situated on the 150-acre grounds of the Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center, opened its doors last month.   Housed in a beautiful building complete with solar panels, geo-thermal heating, and a greenhouse, the preschool is committed to promoting children's love of nature, with a curriculum guided by seasonal events. Director and Head Teacher Jacqueline Lema is excited to be overseeing the new class of eager students.

 

Redwing Pond House Preschool  
"This school nurtures how children learn naturally - through their curiosity," says Jackie. "They will retain more by doing than by hearing about it."

    

At Redwing Pond House Preschool discovery through the natural world is, well, natural, because as Jackie says, the school is right in the middle of nature.   The pond and all its life is nearby, there are hawks flying in the sky outside, deer wandering through the woods, and all types of plant and animal life just outside the door. And the students can bring nature inside. The school's greenhouse holds a tank which they can use to bring plants and animals from the grounds inside to study more thoroughly.

 

Director Jackie Lema with students
Photo: Jeff Spooner 

Working alongside Jackie, teachers Marcy Boyd and Mary Beth Hibson plan to use the surrounding nature as the guiding theme when presenting science, art and music, language and literacy, dramatic play, and other curriculum areas. The students will be outside almost every day. As Jackie likes to say, "There is no bad weather, just bad clothing."

 

Teacher Mary Beth adds, "Kids at this age are natural scientists. They want to explore and explain the world around them. They rely on and learn from their senses because they can't read or go on a computer."    

 

While staff and families alike celebrate the school's opening, it took a lot of work to get to this point. Donna Lindgren, Director of the Ansonia Nature Center, has long envisioned a school with a nature-based curriculum on the Center grounds.   This kind of school is important because it connects children to nature. "I am a huge believer in kids growing things. It gets them directly involved with what they eat." This type of education, she says, gets them close to the ground, where they can see, smell, and touch the soil, and all the fascinating things that soil has within it, and where the children can see for themselves how much there is to discover in dirt.

 

 
 

 

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Establishing Your School Garden

The first in a series of guides to getting your school garden up and growing!

Many thanks to Annelise McCay of Fairfield for her help with this article.

 

Part One - Getting Organized and Getting Approval
 
So, you are a parent who has been tinkering with the idea of starting a garden at your child's school. School gardens seem like a great idea.  To a parent, a garden is a wonderful place for a child to learn, to connect with nature, and to incorporate learning in a fun environment.
 
Or maybe you are a teacher at a school and would love to establish a garden on the grounds. To a teacher, a garden is a great educational tool, sparking a child's natural curiosity and offering many opportunities to incorporate all subjects of a school's curriculum.

But perhaps you are a bit hesitant, because you really have no idea where to start.   What's the first step?  Who do you talk to?  And how do you convince others to jump on board?  Buying seeds and builiding beds seems like the easy part compared to going before the school board and trying to get approval.

It's all comes down to research and preparation.  Do your homework, find others with the same vision, draw up a plan, and get started. 



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Why Seed Catalogs are Great Tools

Our newest edition of Gleanings eNews features organic seed catalogs as this month's favorite tools. Since new organic seed catalogs have just come out for the 2012 season, now is a good time to note how informative and useful seed catalogs can be when starting out your garden or farm for the year.  Really knowing what kinds of seed grow best in a particular soil and climate and when it's best to plant them can mean the difference between a successful harvest and a loss.  Seed catalogs (and the people working behind the scenes to compile them) provide more than just an indexed list of products for sale.  They represent a wealth of knowledge from decades of experience working with seeds.  If you are a farmer or gardener, taking every opportunity to soak up this kind of accumulated know-how can really put you ahead in terms of your production, regardless of whether you are growing for personal or commercial use.
 
Some popular organic seed providers include: 

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Thalberg School Shares Its Garden 

Thalberg School Garden 1

Thalberg School in Southington recently established a school garden with the help of the Orchard Valley Garden Club, also of Southington.  The collaboration has resulted in a thriving, educational environment on the school grounds.  Linda Reilly, a fourth-grade teacher at Thalberg, sent in these photos to share with our readers.
 
 
 Thalberg School Garden 2
 
 
Thalberg School Garden 3
 
 
 

















 
 
             Thanks for sharing your garden!
 
 

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And from Tarriffville School in Simsbury...

Tarriffville students
The Community Farm of Simsbury helped 4th-grade students at Tarriffville School build and seed some raised beds back in November.  The students are now enjoying seeing the results of their efforts!
 
The students preparing the beds....

Tarriffville students

And the results in February...
Tarriffville garden  
 


Salad anyone?


Thanks to Timothy Goodwin of the Community Farm of Simsbury for sharing these great photos!





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New Curriculum Available
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The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future is offering a new, free, classroom-ready curriculum called Teaching the Food System.  According the Center, the curriculum is an extension of the Center's work to increase awareness of the relationships between diet, health, food production, the environment, population and equity. It is the product of a multi-year collaboration between experienced educators and a diversity of content experts.

 

For more curriculum resources, be sure to check out CT NOFA's School Garden Network resources page.

 

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Upcoming CT NOFA Workshops

CT NOFA, along with Common Ground High School, is sponsoring some workshops that may be of interest to educators who are either involved in a school garden or who are considering one.  They will take place in February and March at Common Ground High School in New Haven, and include the following:

How to Plan For a Bountiful Vegetable GardenFall Harvest Photo 1
Saturday, February 18, 2012
10:00 am - 1:00 pm

 

Soils and Compost Workshop 

Saturday, March 10, 2012 

10:00 am-12:00 pm

 

Starting Seedlings Workshop 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

10:00 am-12:00 pm

 

Organic Gardening Workshop

Saturday, May 5, 2012

10:00 am - 12:00 pm

 

For further information on the workshops and registration details, click here, or call the CT NOFA office at 203-888-5146.

 

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CT NOFA Winter Conference

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Join us in March at our Winter Conference!  The Conference will be held on March 3, 2012 at the Manchester Community College in Manchester, from 8:30Am to 4:30PM.  This year our keynote speaker is international bestselling author Jeffrey M. Smith.  Mr. Smith is the leading spokesperson on the health dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
 
There is a wide variety of workshops to choose from, many of which will be beneficial to educators using a garden-based curriculum, including a panel on Edible School Gardens led by Dan Levinson of Green Village Initiative.  Other workshops of interest are Lead Soils - Concerns and Corrections, for those who may have to deal with this issue on school grounds; Worm Composting Simplified, Raising Garlic, Mushroom Growing on a Small Scale, and Wild Bees and Pollination, all of which are topics that can apply to school gardens; and of special interest due to the timing of the school year in the cycle of seasons, How You Can Easily Grow Fresh Greens All Winter and Collards and Other Cold Weather Greens for Health and Flavor.  These are just a few of the informative and fun workshops being offered, with more still to be added. 

 

The Winter Conference also features exhibitors and vendors, a potluck lunch, a raffle, and a family play area.  We also offer early-bird registration, as well as discounts for NOFA members, students and seniors, and volunteers.  Print out a registration form, or register on-line. Or, as always, you can call the CT NOFA office at 203-888-5146.

We hope to see you there!

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Global Environmental Sustainability Symposium  

 

The Global Environmental Sustainability Action Coalition (GESAC) is holding its 5th Annual Global Environmental Sustainability Symposium on Thursday, March 29, 2012 at Central Connecticut State University.  The theme of the symposium is Global Food, Farming, and Sustainability.  Some of the events include a screening of the film FRESH!, an interactive puppet show, a jazz performance, and presentations by several speakers.  All events are free and open to the public, but some do have limited seating and require registration.  There is also limited bus funding available.  See GESAC's page for full details of the event, and see here for registration details.  Deadline for bus funding is March 1st; deadline for registration is March 22nd. 
                                                               
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News and Notes
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In January, the U.S. Deparment of Agriculture released new guidelines for school lunches, the first new standards in fifteen years.  Read some thoughts on the changes here and here.
 
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Ox Ridge School in Darien has become the first elementary school in that town to have a school garden.   The other four elementary schools in Darien hope to have their gardens up and running by 2013. Darien Patch has their story 

 

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The Community Farm of Simsbury joined with Gifts of Love to hire a new garden manager, Margaret Saksa.  Read about their collaboration here.
 
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Speaking of the Community Farm of Simsbury, check out this great video of students learning and having fun there!
 
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Shelton farmer Terry Jones had a letter published in the Connecticut Post on Martin Luther King Day. See what Mr. Jones has to say to Dr. King.    

 

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New Haven's Common Ground High School was a recipient of a grant from Greater New Haven Green Fund. GHNGF awarded funding to nine groups this year, for projects designed to improve the environment.


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In New Orleans, Grow Dat Youth Farm keeps students engaged in farming and food after they leave eighth grade.  Grist profiles the farm's efforts to keep teens involved in the sustainable and local food system.

 

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 New Haven public schools started out the school year by adding 33 new salad bars to their schools.   The salad bar program aims to promote healthier eating in schools.

 

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Best Colleges Online  recently published a list of the top ten farm-to-school programs.  Check out the list and be sure to follow the links for even more information about the programs.

  

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Dr. Benjamin Wrubel, a teacher at Bunnell High School in Stratford, was  nominated as a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.  Dr. Wrubel is the advisor of the environmental club at Bunnell, and also is the Coordinator for its Project Greenhouse.

 

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Tolland Garden Paths Club breaks ground for its new youth garden. The club has plans to get youth groups involved in tending the garden, and the food grown will be donated to local food banks and soup kitchens.  Read all about it!

 

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Goodwin College in East Hartford had their own ground-breaking in January, with construction beginning on the Connecticut River Academy on the college campus. The magnet high school will focus on the river and on environmental studies, and will include a rooftop garden.
 
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New Haven second-graders celebrated National Food Day at Chabaso Bakery community garden.  The event focused on nutrition and healthy eating.

  

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Sullivan Farm in New Milford recently got a write-up in the NewsTimes.com.  The farm, in the Sullivan family for years, is now run as a by the New Milford Youth Agency as an educational farm.

 

 

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Common Ground Seeks Summer Camp Teachers

 

Common Ground High School in New Haven is looking for experienced and energetic teachers for summer 2012.  The school is offering six different camps, including a Sprouts camp, an
Eco-Explorers camp, and a Farm to Feast Cooking camp, among others, starting in June and running through August. To get to know Common Ground, take a look at this video from last summer, highlighting their summer program.

 

If you are interested, view the job description for full details, and apply on-line.
 
If you'd like to do this but don't have the required experience, Common Ground also 
offers non-paid internships as well.  Check out their internship opportunities page for further information on what's available and how to apply.  This can be a great way to gain experience and see
how the school farm operates.  While most internships are intended for college students, they do accept post-college applicants looking to gain experience in a new field.

 

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FoodCorps is Recruiting Service Members for 2012 - 2013 School Year

 

Each year, FoodCorps recruits leaders for a year of paid public service building healthy school food
environments in high-obesity, limited-resource communities, and this year they are expanding the number of states they will be working in. FoodCorps was founded to address a public health crisis and to provide a training opportunity for those with an interest in careers in food and agriculture.  Service members teach children about food and nutrition, grow healthy food with children and communities in school gardens, and change what children eat for school lunch by connecting farms and schools.

 

Rachel, who started her term last August as part of FoodCorps first class of service members, shares some thoughts on her experience in this article from Civil Eats.

 

Interested?  Get more information about the program, check out their applicant FAQs, and if you like what you read, apply here.  The application deadline is Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 11:59PM; no applications will be accepted after the deadline.

  

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Grow Some Green for Your Garden

 
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School gardens need green to be green. Check our resources
page for some ideas on how to get started on funding your school garden or farm.  Get suggestions for fundraising, learn tips for applying for grants, and find sources for the money to support your project.

 


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We want the CT NOFA School Garden Network to be your go-to site for information on starting, maintaining, and growing your school garden.  Please feel free to contact us with anything - questions you need to ask, ideas or suggestions you'd like to share, comments you want to put out to the school garden community, or news you'd like to tell us about.  We can all learn and be inspired by what others are doing, so please share your stories and experiences with us.  We look forward to hearing from you! 

 

Sincerely,

 

Debbie Semonich

CT NOFA

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US School Garden Army cropped

Maginel Wright Barney, 1877-1966






 

 

 

 

 

 

"A garden for every child; a child in every garden."

                              ~ the U.S. School Garden Army

 

 

 

PO Box 164
Stevenson, Connecticut 06491