ct nofa logo 
Issue No. 7
May  2013

Growing and Learning 

In This Issue
G.I.V.E in Stamford
Reservoir Community Farm
CT NOFA School Garden Kits
Mass Ag in the Classroom
Hart Seed Company Seed Donation
Upcoming Webinars
Garden Guides - Get Started!
Available Grants & Support
GVI Seeks Summer Staff
News and Notes

Quick Links

Welcome to our New Executive Director!


Please join the Board of Directors and staff of Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association (CT NOFA) in welcoming Eileen Hochberg. (Read the full press release here.


School Garden friends,


What a great time of year to begin my new role as Executive Director of the Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association!


Spring is when our mission comes to life with every emerging bud and blade of grass, the rush of activity at our garden centers and nurseries, the beginning of Connecticut's outdoor farmers markets and CSA programs, and the increasing availability of local and organic fresh farm products wherever we shop...and of course it's the beginning of gardens everywhere, including at more and more schools throughout Connecticut.


It's gratifying to know that the school garden movement is truly alive and well and growing in our state, and that our children have increasing opportunities to experience the joys of growing, preparing and tasting their own food.


There is nothing like the look on a child's face after learning that the delicious chip they just tasted is kale, or that the french fries with lunch are especially good because they come from real potatoes grown in their own garden, and that french fries are made from, well, potatoes.


One of the best ways to get kids to eat fresh, wholesome and minimally processed fruits and veggies is to serve them in the form of foods they already love - chips, french fries, pizza to name a few.


The school garden movement is so strong that we at CT NOFA have decided to incorporate this newsletter into our monthly Gleanings e-newsletter that goes to over 4700 readers. We want our wider audience to have access to a monthly column on school gardens. In addition, we want you to be able to read all the other news we publish on food, gardening, landscaping and farming. Of course you can opt out of that newsletter when you receive it, but we sure hope you don't!


Please enjoy this issue of Growing and Learning, and we hope you take advantage of the offer of free seeds from Hart Seed Company (see below) for your science lessons, classroom projects or your school garden.


Best wishes for a great school garden season,



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G.I.V.E. Helps Welcome Spring at Dolan Middle School

GIVE Dolan Middle School April 2013
G.I.V.E - Green Initiative for Vegetables in Education - located in Stamford, helped students in the garden at Dolan Middle School get ready for spring last month.  Students made a garden grid to be able to plan the direct sowing of seeds.  They used rulers and chalk to measure feet; yarn and thumb tacks to create the grid; and, tongue depressors to identify the seeds planted: peas, beets, bok choy, spinach, lettuces, radishes, carrots, and chards.
The school garden had a few heads of lettuce that overwintered, and notice the milk jugs in the garden from their winter-sowing project.

GIVE Dolan Middle School April 2013

GIVE Dolan Middle School April 2013

Check out G.I.V.E.'s website  for more information, and some great resources.

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Reservoir Community Farm is Growing

Reservoir Community Farm in Bridgeport, sponsored by Green Village Initiative, is getting ready for a new season, and hosted one of its Volunteer Days this past April. Despite the chilly temperatures, volunteers turned out to spend a day getting the farm up and running.


GVI Reservoir Farm April 2013  


GVI co-chair Melissa Kane gets wood ready for cutting to build one of the 32 ft X 4 ft garden beds at the farm. There will be over 100 of these beds growing food for Bridgeport School Cafeterias and the local community.


GVI Reservoir Farm April 2013

GVI board member Craig Skinner teaches building techniques to local students at the farm. Craig heads 'Builders Beyond Borders' in Fairfield County and leads all of GVI's Farm and School Garden builds.

GVI Reservoir Farm April 2013
Volunteers plant the first seeds at the farm - peas!

The new Reservoir Community Farm sign is painted on a 3 ft by 8 ft piece of plywood that will go on the 'urban shed' at the farm. GVI intern Marisa Baron is the artist.

GVI Reservoir Community Farm


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Attention School Garden Programs!

CT NOFA is offering 35 school kits to school garden providers that include: 40 round
Organic lawns and gardens and 10 bumper  stickers from our Organic Lawns and Gardens Campaign, 1 lawn sign to show that you are gardening organically, and 1 "Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards" booklet that gives a great overview of it means to work organically.

These school kits will help with your school gardening curriculum and are offered free of charge through the generosity of Patagonia. If you want to get your free copy of this kit, please email Melissa
and provide us with your school name and mailing address.

To see a pdf version of the Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards booklet, visit the NOFA Organic Land Care website.

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Mass Ag in the Classroom Plans Busy Summer
Mass Ag in the Classroom   
Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom has a summer full of workshops and learning opporutunites for educators.
They are offering their eighth annual Summer Graduate Course, Growing Agriculture in the Classroom, co-sponsored with Fitchburg State College, starting on July 2, 2013 and running through August 14, 2013.  Teachers will participate in agricultural-literacy training through fun, hands-on study and investigation of agriculture education resources, using Massachusetts farms as the classroom.  For more information on the Summer Graduate Course, visit their webpage, and download this informational flyer.  The registration form can be found here.
Can't do the whole course?  Educators can also attend the individual workshops throughout the summer.  Check out the list of workshops, and follow the links for schedules and registration information.
Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom is also planning its Summer Conference for Educators, Connections from the Garden to the Classroom, scheduled to take place on July 18, 2013 at Holden Christian Academy School Garden in Holden, MA.  Advanced registration is $40.  See their webpage for further information on the conference.

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Hart Seed Company Donation Program


Could your school use free vegetable and flower seed packets for science lessons, classroom projects or yourHart Seed Company school garden?


The Chas. C. Hart Seed Company would like to help! Located in Old Wethersfield, CT since 1892, the Hart Seed Company is owned and operated by members of the fourth and fifth generations of the Hart family. They have recently developed a Donations Department in order to distribute surplus inventory from their previous season to agencies and schools.


If you are interested in the program, fill out the form and return to Hart Seed.  Shipping costs do apply.  And the people at Hart Seed would love to hear back from you with the results of your school projects!


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Upcoming Webinars
The Edible Schoolyard Project has several webinars upcoming this summer.  Topics include School Gardening in the Fall, Mapping and Engaging the Edible Schoolyard Movement, Inquiry in the Garden, and Celebrate National Farm to School Month.  Check out their webpage for details.
Project Learning Tree is offering webinars in the upcoming months.  Subjects covered include Authentic Student Voice and Leadership in GreenSchools! and What Can We Learn from Schoolyard Trees?  They also have archived webinars available.  Visit their webpage for further information.

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Help in Starting Your Garden
Need some help in getting your garden started? While these guides are geared more toward community gardens, there are many good points and ideas included that apply to school gardens as well.  Topics covered include money, supplies, land, recruitment, management, garden layout, raised beds, soil and compost, and other items and issues involved in forming and maintaining a group garden.

The Dirty Dozen: Your Guide to a Successful Community Garden by Becky Lovejoy


Grow Your Park Initiative: Building a Community Garden in Your Park

by the National Recreation and Park Association


Start a Farm in the City by Rex Dufour


And, to assess the soil in the area where you are planning your garden, check out the Soil Quality and Site Assessment Card for CT Community Gardeners, put out by the USDA.


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Available Grants & Other Support

Annie's bunny
Annie's Grants for Gardens
Annie's 2013 Grants for Gardens  program is open!  Annie's offers grants to school gardens that connect children directly to real food. The Grants for Gardens are available to K-12 schools in the United States. These funds can be used to buy gardening tools, seeds or other needed supplies.

The application deadline to apply is May 31, 2013. For guidelines and an application form, visit Annie's webpage.



Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! GrantProject Learning Tree 

Project Learning Tree has GreenWorks! grants of up to $3,000 available to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects. PLT's GreenWorks! program is open to any PLT-trained educator in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The grants help students actively improve their local environments, which include both their schools and their communities.
The application form is now online; the deadline to apply is September 30, 2013.  While you are at their site, be sure to check out PLT's GreenSchools! program as well for more resources.

Lowe's Toolbox for Education
Lowe's Toolbox for EducationLowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) knows how hard you work for your kids and your community and they are dedicated to helping your parent-teacher group achieve even more for your school. The 2013 spring cycle for grants is now closed, but the fall cycle will be opening in mid-July, so be sure to check out their website soon.  Deadline for the fall cycle will be October 15, 2013. 
Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation
Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation
The Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation awards grants to support educators and organizations in developing and implementing holistic environmental curricula that meet the Foundation's mission and goals . A pre-proposal is due by September 13, 2013; selected pre-proposals will be selected at that point and contacted for submission of full proposals.  For more information on the grants, the application process, and other requirements, visit the Foundation's grants webpage .

Pollinator Partnership
The Pollinator Partnership is offering the Bee Smart School Garden Kit, which will help expose your students to new ideas about food, wildlife, and plants.  For more information about the kit, to obtain one or to see about getting a free kit, visit their webpage.  While you're there, check out the information on Pollinator Week  (June 17 - 23, 2013) and make plans to participate!
Pollinator Partnership

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Green Village Initiative Seeks Staff

Green Village Initiative has openings for two positions this summer.  They are seeking a Junior Farmer for the Reservoir Community Farm in Bridgeport, a position which runs from May through October.  They also are in need of a School Garden Coordinator for Bridgeport Public Schools, for May through August.

Contact Monique at GVI for further information.  


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News and Notes
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Congratulations to Lynn Kochiss, 3rd-grade teacher at Woodside Elementary School in Cromwell, CT, for being named a 2013 National Outstanding Educator by Project Learning Tree.  Read the story here.




Derby-based Turn the Tide Foundation  is producing a series of musical public service announcements aimed at middle-school students to encourage better eating habits.  The Connecticut Post has the article.  




New Haven's Nathan Hale School has transformed their cafeteria into a learning lab, with monitors presenting health and wellness information and nutritional facts.  Read the story in the New Haven Register.




Culinate offers this interview with Debra Eschmeyer, co-founder of FoodCorps.  FoodCorps places service members in schools and communities across the country, to teach kids about healthy food and where it comes from, build and tend school gardens, and bring high-quality local food into public-school cafeterias.




Six Connecticut colleges and universities are featured in the 2013 edition of The Princeton Review's "Guide to Green Colleges'' for their "green'' commitment through curricula and infrastructure.  Hartford Business Journal has the story.




With the help of a grant from Project Learning Tree, St. Michael School in Livermore, CA was able to reduce waste removal costs by $1200 and divert 40% of the waste to recycling and composting centers.  Learn about the students' work here.




A study shows that New York children are eating healthier foods since new WIC food packaging was introduced.  Read more here.




Last month in North Carolina, more than 200 teachers, parents, city planners, town leaders and community activists gathered for the fourth annual Dig In workshop. This year's theme was "weaving edible landscapes into the fabric of Wake County." Sessions focused on community gardens, urban agriculture and school gardens.  You can read more about their efforts here.



Children, families, and business travelers will benefit as foodservice providers at Chicago Public Schools, McCormick Place, and Midway Airport announce major new local and sustainable food procurement programs at Good Food Trade Show in Chicago.  Get the details here. 




Sodexo and Real Food Challenge, the largest student food justice organization in the county,  jointly announced an agreement that advances supply chain transparency on Sodexo-contracted campuses.  Read more at Real Food Challenge.




Involving children in a school gardening program may do more than cultivate a green thumb. It may also cultivate a greater interest in trying new foods, a new study suggests.  MyHealthNewsDaily has the  details.



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Grow Somemoney tree bonsai Green for Your Garden



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.  Be sure to check back often, as new opportunities are always opening up.


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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! 




Debbie Semonich


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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