Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grant: Healthy Classrooms Foundation

Healthy Classrooms Foundation, an organization with the mission to "make a positive difference in the health of the next generation by promoting and fostering long-lasting projects that increase public health practices in the classroom," has just announced that it will offer grants to Wisconsin schools. 

The grants will be awarded to projects that make a long-term impact on "physical health, nutrition, sexual education, global perspectives, minority disparities, environmental responsibility, and mental and emotional health."

This grant is the perfect opportunity to apply for funding for your school garden.  Gardens address students' physical health and nutrition while encouraging environmental responsibility.  The Got Dirt? program hopes that incorporating gardens into the curriculum will increase children's knowledge and consumption of fruits and vegetables and allow students to develop healthy eating habits at a young age.

Grant applications are due by May 25, 2010.  Grant funds will not exceed $2,000. 

Visit the Healthy Classroom Foundation website for additional information and an electronic application.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Activity: Super Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables sure are super!  They provide us with vital nutrients and vitamins.  In this activity, students will create super heroes out of fruits and vegetables.

Markers, crayons, colored pencils and/or paint
Research materials

  1. Either assign or have students choose a fruit or vegetable.  If you've already planted your garden, have students choose fruits and vegetables from the garden.
  2. Have students research the health benefits of their fruit or vegetable.  The website Fruits and Veggies Matter is one example of a site that lists examples of fruits/vegetables and their nutritional benefits.
  3. Instruct students to draw a picture or cartoon of their fruit/vegetable as a super hero.  The fruit/vegetable's super power should relate to its nutritional benefits.  Encourage students to be creative. (Click on the sample below to enlarge the image).
  4. Have students share their super hero and then hang their drawings around the classroom.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Sowing

Last week at our Got Dirt? training in Green Bay, local teachers and child care providers shared resources and gardening tips.

One particularly intriguing winter gardening method was the idea of winter sowing. Winter sowing involves reusing plastic containers (such as take-out containers or milk jugs) to essentially create mini-greenhouses in the winter. Placing the containers outdoors, the seeds begin to grow naturally, taking hints from Mother Nature. Once spring arrives, the plants are ready to be transplanted into your garden.

Winter sowing offers an alternative to starting plants indoors under grow lights.

It also makes for a great method to try with your students. Just imagine students’ fascination with their mini-greenhouses outside in the snow. Each day they can monitor the progress of their plants during recess or before/after school.

Visit the website for detailed instructions, ideas and inspiration.

If you have used winter sowing in the past or decide to try it with your students, we would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Grant:Green Works' Green Heroes Grant Program

Green Works' Green Heroes Grant Program will award grants to individuals, organizations, and schools working to make their community a greener place.

This would be a great opportunity to apply for funding for your school garden.

Applications are available through Facebook ( from Jan. 19 through Feb. 18.  A $15,000 first place award and $5,000 runner-up award will be awarded to three categories:
  • Youth Leader/Organization
  • Adult Leader/Organization
  • School Organization
A committee will review all of the applications and select the top five finalist.  The public will then vote for a winner on Facebook from March 18 through April 18.

Apply for a grant today and make your dream a reality.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Great School Garden Article and Resource List

Civil Eats, an organization that "promotes critical thought about sustainable agriculture and food systems as part of building economically and socially just communities," wrote a fantastic blog post about school gardens.

The blog post features stories of various school gardens throughout the country and an impressive list of additional resources. The resources include nonprofit organizations working to start school gardens, organizations creating curriculum and lesson plans for gardens, and funding opportunities.

The blog post shows the variety of ways to incorporate a garden into the classroom and the array of ways to approach it. Best of all, the blog post is inspirational and shows that it is possible to have a successful school garden.

Click here to check it out!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Create Your Own Raised Bed Garden

Learn how to create your own raised bed garden with these simple steps. 

A raised bed improves soil drainage, allowing for plant roots to breathe better.  The soil in a raised bed will also heat up faster in the spring, and the soil will not be compacted since you don't walk on your raised bed.

It's never to early to start planning your spring garden and getting everything ready!

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Training Session Date

Another Got Dirt? training has been added to the schedule.

Attend a Got Dirt? training in Tomah, WI on Friday, April 9 from 1:00-3:30 p.m. at Tomah Middle School, 612 Hollister Ave., Tomah, WI.

Visit for more information.

We hope to see you there!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Activity: Garden Patterns

The following website has some awesome resources and links for school gardens across the country.  In particular, it has a link for a fun and easy activity to do with your students.

The Garden Patterns Activity has students work with patterns.  The worksheet features a series of vegetables.  Students have to finish the pattern by drawing, naming or pasting the rest of the vegetables in the sequence.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, check out this awesome resource and easy activity to do with your students!

New Training Session Date!

We're happy to announce a new Got Dirt? Training Session date:

Wed., Feb. 24th
12:30-3:30 p.m.
Polk County Government Center
100 Polk Co. Plaza
Balsam Lake, WI 54810

To register contact Kristen Buettner at or 920-391-4655

We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Activity: Sorting Seeds

In this activity, students will learn to sort and describe seeds according to various characteristics, including size, shape, color and texture.


  • Four or five different types of seeds. Try to find seeds and beans that vary in size, color, texture, and shape. The more variety, the better! [Examples: Bird seed or dried beans]
  1. Give each child an assortment of seeds. Remind students to not eat the seeds.
  2. Allow the children to have a couple of minutes to play with the seeds. Tell students to examine them, make patterns, or make shapes and pictures with their seeds.
  3. Have students organizeseeds or create different categories for the seeds. To start, tell them to create piles of seeds that are the same color.
  4. While students are sorting, on a board or chart paper, create four columns with the headings: color, size, shape, texture.
  5. Ask students to describe the piles of seeds they created. Remind students that there is not one correct answer to these questions and that students may have decided to sort their seeds differently.
    How are the groups similar and how are the groups different?
    What do each of the piles look like?
  6. Write the responses under the “color” column. Examples: red, brown, dark, light
  7. Repeat, asking students to sort and describe seeds according to their size, shape or texture.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Activity: Don't Forget Your Fruits and Vegetables!

This activity helps to teach and reinforce the parts of a plant (seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruit). It also allows students to recognize the parts of a plant that we eat.


  • A variety of fruits and vegetables to represent parts of the plant*
  • Table/Flat surface
  • Cloth


  1. Place all of the fruits and vegetables on the table and tell students to gather around.
  2. Have students identify the names of the fruits and vegetables and the corresponding part of the plant they represent.
  3. Tell students they will have to remember the items on the table. Give students a couple of minutes to look at and remember the items.
  4. Cover the items with a cloth and carefully remove one or several items without the students seeing. Meanwhile, ask the students to explain the functions of the different plant parts or ask what plants need to grow.

    Seeds: Contain everything the plant needs to grow
    Anchor the plant, provide support, and absorb nutrients and water
    Stems: Carry nutrients from the roots to the leaves
    Leaves: Make food for the plant
    Flowers and Fruit:
    Help the plant reproduce

  5. After removing an item, uncover the fruits and vegetables and ask the students what's missing.
  6. Repeat as many times as desired!

Play I Spy with the fruits and vegetables. Using the same idea, place items on the table and first have students identity the name of the fruit/vegetable and the part of the plant. Then students, "I spy with my little eyes....a root that is orange!" [Answer: Carrot]. Have students take turns picking the items.

*Suggested fruits/vegetables, according to plant part
  • Seeds:
    • Almonds
    • Brazil nuts
    • Cashews
    • Peas
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Sunflower seeds
  • Roots
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Horseradish
    • Parsnip
    • Rutabagas
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Turnips
  • Stems
    • Asparagus
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • White potatoes
  • Leaves
    • Cabbage
    • Collards
    • Kale
    • Lettuce
    • Mustard
    • Parsley
    • Spinach
  • Flowers
    • Broccoli
    • Chive blossoms
    • Garlic blossoms
    • Squash blossoms
  • Fruits
    • Apples
    • Cucumbers
    • Grapes
    • Peaches
    • Pears
    • Peppers
    • Pumpkins
    • String beans
    • Tomatoes

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January School Garden Ideas

At the beginning of each month, the Got Dirt? Wisconsin blog will feature a variety of month-specific ways to incorporate your school garden into your classroom.

And now...the first edition of the monthly gardening activities. Feel free to suggest activities, games, etc. Enjoy!

  • Start to plan your outdoor garden, talk about the types of fruits and veggies that you class wants to plant and/or decide on a theme for your garden

  • Plant a microfarm! January is the perfect opportunity to use this innovative indoor gardening technique. Click here for blueprints and more information

  • Jan. 6 is Bean Day. Read "Jack in the Beanstalk," sample various types of beans, dissect a bean and see what's inside.

  • Jan. 19 is National Popcorn Day. Instead of using the traditional popcorn, plant popcorn microgreens in your microfarm and have students taste it. They can even compare and contrast it to traditional popcorn.

  • Jan. 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day. Use this as an opportunity to talk about all of the creatures that will visit your garden. You can also try to track squirrel footprints in the snow!~

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter and Spring Training Dates

We are excited to announce the winter and spring Got Dirt? training dates. Got Dirt? training sessions will cover basic gardening techniques, including winter gardening methods. Funding and grant opportunities will also be discussed.

Best of all, Got Dirt? training sessions are FREE! Just be sure to register since space is limited. Contact Kristen at or 920-391-4655 to register.

As always, more information is available at