Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The History of School Gardens

School gardens have a rich and fascinating history. Take the time to watch this video on the history of school gardens by the Library of Congress.

This could be a great video to watch with your students as a history lesson!

Sit back and enjoy the wealth of information on school gardens and the narrator's fun Eastern accent =)


Monday, November 29, 2010

Edible Flower Power

If you’re interested in adding a little more color to your garden, consider planting edible flowers. Edible flowers can be used fresh as a garnish or as a salad. Squash flowers can be fried in light batter or cornmeal, some flowers can be stuffed or used in stir-fry dishes. The possibilities are endless! Edible flowers can be candied; frozen in ice cubes and added to beverages, made into jellies and jams, used to make teas or wines, added to spreads, and much more.

Please note that not all flowers are edible; some may taste bad and some are even poisonous. Eat flowers only if you are certain they are edible. Consult a good reference book before eating any type of flower.

Below are some suggestions on edible flowers and how to use them!

Marigold: Flavors range from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery. Sprinkle them on soups, pasta or rice dishes, herb butters, and salads. Petals add a yellow tint to soups, spreads, and scrambled eggs.

Carnations: Carnations can be steeped in wine, candy, or used as a cake decoration. To use the sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower.

Chrysanthemums: Flavors are typically tangy to slightly better. The petals should be blanched and then scattered on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar. Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only.

Johnny Jump Ups: The blooms have a mild wintergreen flavor and can be used in salads, to decorate cakes, or served with soft cheese. They are also a great addition to drinks, soups, desserts, or salads.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More than Pictures

In March through September of 2010, twenty six at-risk youth in residential treatment at Northwest Passage were given the mission of using cameras to reveal the spirit of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The photographs astonished everyone. However, the boys captured the spirit of more than just a river.


Consider having your students photograph your garden throughout the various seasons.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Grant Opportunity: America the Beautiful Fund

America the Beautiful Fund Operation Green Plant is offering free seeds to community groups striving to better our world through gardening. These are the 2008 and 2009 seeds with germination rates of 92-95%. Grants of 100 to 6,000 seed packets are being offered.

America the Beautiful Fund is also offering The Green Earth Guide on CD-ROM, containing illustrated gardening instructions and ideas on involving the whole community in your project. They are also able to supply your group with gloves through a donation from Wells-Lamont.

This is an on-going grant. Application materials can be found at: http://www.america-the-beautiful.org/free_seeds/index.php.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Appleton Schools Make Some Healthy Choices

There is a great article about changing student lunches at Appleton Area School District. Take a chance to watch the video of student's reaction to a new healthy lunch sample.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Activity: Thanksgiving Comparisons

Here’s an activity where students are able to compare food eaten during the first Thanksgiving compared to what they eat for Thanksgiving today. Under the activity instructions is an overview of the first Thanksgiving meal.

Paper to draw a Venn Diagram

1) Discuss the history of the first thanksgiving and the food served there.

2) Have students draw a Venn Diagram and have them label one circle “First Thanksgiving” and the other circle “Thanksgiving Today”.

3)Students should write foods that they learned were eaten at the first Thanksgiving and foods that are eaten today. The center of the Venn diagram should include foods that were eaten then and are still eaten today.

It is believed that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated the very first Thanksgiving feast after harvest in 1621 in Plymouth, MA. It was held as a religious outdoor festival, where hundreds of people gathered to partake in the festivities. It was originally held as a three day celebration.

Historians believe that the menu consisted of venison, roasted turkey, wild fowl including ducks, geese and swans, fish, and lobsters. Vegetables served included pumpkins, squash, beans, dried fruits, cranberries, and dried corn. The sugar supply brought over on the Mayflower from England was nearly exhausted by the time of the first Thanksgiving, so it is widely assumed that wheat pudding may have been on of the only sweet dishes served.

The pilgrims used many spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit in the meat sauces they prepared. Many of the meats were put on a spit and turned over a fire for six hours. Since ovens were yet to be invented, pies, cakes, and breads most likely were not at the first Thanksgiving table.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Farmer Market Mania!

Does it seem like there were more farmer's markets than ever this year? Well, the number of farmers markets is booming in the United States, and Wisconsin is No. 8 among states with the most markets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Nationwide, farmers markets increased 16%, with the biggest increase among Midwestern states, the USDA found.

The top 10 states with the most farmers markets are: California, with 580; New York (461); Illinois (286); Michigan (271); Iowa (229); Massachusetts (227); Ohio (213); Wisconsin (204); Pennsylvania (203); and North Carolina (182).

Most of those states are among the 15 most populous in the country. Wisconsin ranks 20th in population in the U.S., and Iowa 30th.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fruit & Veggie Challenge

Looking for a great way to motivate your students to eat their fruits and vegetables? Why not try the Fruit and Vegetable Challenge?

Simply print off the challenge sheets found on the USDA website link below and have students record the number of fruits and vegetables they eat each day.

Consider giving out rewards for eating the most fruit/vegetables or the most diverse fruit/vegetables. You could even give a party when all the students reach a certain number of fruits and vegetables consumed. The possibilities are endless!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Annie's Grants for Gardens

Annie’s offers a limited number of small grants to community gardens, school gardens, and other educational programs that connect children directly to gardening. These funds can be used to buy gardening tools, seeds or other needed supplies.

The grant is on-going and application materials can be found at: http://www.annies.com/grants_for_gardens.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Activity: Where does your garden grow?

This is a simple matching game that teaches children where various fruits and vegetables grow.

1)Pictures of carrots, lettuce, zucchini, blueberries, and papaya. (You can vary these types of fruits and veggies, just make sure you have a plant for each type of growing style)

2)Labels that state “In the ground”, “On the ground”, “On a vine”, “On a bush”, and “In a tree”
--Note: If possible, put magnets on all of these pictures and labels so you can hang them on the chalk board.

1)Hand out the pictures to the students. Each student will receive one picture of a vegetable or fruit.

2)Have the students match the vegetable or fruit to its growing style. Students will need to guess which plant goes with which growing style.

3) Review the results to determine if the students were correct.

4)Discuss why certain plants have certain growing styles. Discuss what other types of plants share the same growing styles. For example, ask” What other vegetable, besides a carrot, grows in the ground?”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Mantis Awards for Community and Youth Gardens

Mantis (known for their tillers and cultivators) presents the Mantis Awards to charitable and educational groups that enhance the quality of life in their communities. The National Gardening Association selects 25 outstanding applicants to receive Mantis tillers/cultivators.

Any non-profit garden program may apply, including schools, youth camps, and community gardens.

Award packages include a Mantis Tiller/Cultivator with border/edger and kickstand and their choice of gas-powered 2-cycle engine or electric motor valued at $349.00.

Applications are due by March 1, 2011. Application materials can be found at: http://www.kidsgardening.org/grants/mantis.asp

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veggie Music is Always in Season!

Looking to integrate vegetables into your music lesson? Here are a couple cute veggie songs to sing with your students.

Vegetables (tune: Mary had a little lamb)
We are pumpkins, big and round,
Big and round,
big and round.
We are pumpkins,
big and round,
Seated on the ground.
(then try the following)
We are string beans green and fine.....growing on a vine.
We are onions round and white....we make soup taste right.
We are carrots, orange and long...help us sing the song.
We are cabbage green or red....see our funny head.We are corn stalks tall and straight...don’t we just taste great!

The Vegetable Song (Tune: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)
Carrots, Peas, and Broccoli,
Vegetables are good for me.
For my snack and in my lunch,
Veggie sticks are great to munch.
Carrots, Peas, and Broccoli,
Vegetables are good for me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grant: Bonnie Plants Cabbage Grant

Each year, Bonnie Plants distributes free cabbage plants to third graders across the country to foster an interest in gardening and the environment. Cabbages are delivered to students whose teachers have signed up to participate. Students in these third grade classrooms each get their very own cabbage to plant, take care of and harvest. The cabbages produce oversized heads, making the process even more exciting for kids.

As part of the program, Bonnie gives a $1,000 award to one student in each state.

For more information on receiving free cabbage plants, visit the Bonnie Plants website at http://www.bonnieplants.com/CabbageProgram/tabid/81/Default.aspx

Friday, November 5, 2010

Grant: Fiskars Project Orange Thumb

Fiskars will choose 11 recipients from this year’s applicants — 10 will receive $5,000 in cash and tools to help support their goals of neighborhood beautification and horticulture education, and one lucky applicant will receive a complete garden makeover!

Please note that everyone who applies will be considered for a grant, but only those that specify they are interested and meet Fiskars’ criteria will be considered for a complete garden makeover. Apply today and help Project Orange Thumb sow the seeds of community change!

Application deadline is December 31, 2010. Applications materials can be found at:

Grant: People's Garden School Pilot Program

This is due Monday, November 8th! Sorry for the late notice!

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is announcing the opportunity for public and not-for-profit organizations to submit applications for a Peoples Garden School Pilot Program grant competition. FNS has set aside $1 million for this pilot program. One grantee will be selected to enter into a cooperative agreement for the purposes of developing and running community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; teaching students involved in the gardens about agriculture production practices, diet, and nutrition; contributing produce to supplement food provided at eligible schools, student households, local food banks, or senior center nutrition programs; and conducting an evaluation of funded projects to learn more about the impacts of school gardens.

Interested parties must adhere to all the application material requirements in order to be considered for funding. FNS must receive completed grant applications on or before 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Nov. 8, 2010. Applications may be submitted by email to: FY2010Prop_PeoplesGarden@fns.usda.gov or www.grants.gov.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Farm Fresh to your Table

Trying to eat more locally grown foods but don’t know where to begin? Have no fear; the Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas is here! Whether you want to stock your pantry or eat out, the Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas makes it easy to buy and eat locally grown food. The atlas (which is published specifically for various regions in the state) lists farms, farmer’s markets and food related businesses that sell a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs and other products.

This atlas also can provide educators with a great resource for contacting local farmers for field trips or class projects.


Grant Opportunity: 'I Can Grow' Youth Garden Award

Youth and community garden programs across the U.S. can benefit from the new Burpee Home Gardens "I Can Grow" Youth Garden Award. Applications are being considered now, and the award will sponsor and support urban school and community gardens in cities across the country in 2011.

Who should apply?
Schools and youth educators
Community centers or organizations
Youth groups

What the Youth Garden Award includes:
Up to 500 vegetable and herb plants*
$2,500 for program supplies
On-site assistance for initial garden layout and installation
Installation day event publicity coordination
Five gallons of Daniels® Plant Food (a sustainable fertilizer)
Flip® video camera to document garden progress* Quantity of plants is dependent upon size of garden and need

Applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 3, 2010. Award status will be determined in January 2011, and plant material will be delivered based on installation timing in Spring.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Keeping Veggies Fresh

It’s the end of the growing season and you’ve yielded a (hopefully) successful crop, but maybe that crop was a little too successful. If you have too much produce and not enough stomach space or simply want that fresh off the vine taste in the middle of winter, consider freezing your leftovers. You don’t have to invest in canning products to keep some vegetables fresh after the season is done.

Take a lesson from the The Gathering food pantry’s Food Preservation Project in Milwaukee. The volunteers at The Gathering core the tomatoes, blanch them in pots of boiling water, remove the skins, cut the tomatoes into eighths and put them into 1 gallon freezer bags. They’ve also done this with green and red peppers and cabbage that was simply shredded and then frozen.

To find our more about The Gathering’s project, check out this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.http://bit.ly/9kZ2xX

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Grant Opportunity: Welch's "Win a School Garden" Grant

Welch’s and Scholastic will award two schools in every state with a customized indoor or outdoor garden package.

The packages are filled with a variety of tools, seeds, educational materials, and more. The top 5 winners will receive a package valued at $1,000 and 95 winners will receive a package valued at $500.

Deadline for submission is February 11, 2011. Application materials can be found at http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3752777.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Growing Healthy

Take a look at what how a school in Green Bay is implementing better eating habits for children in their cafeteria!


Grant Opportunity: Safe Routes to School

The National Center for Safe Routes to School is now accepting applications for 25 mini-grants of $1,000 each. These mini-grants support the goal of the federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, which is to enable and encourage children to safely walk and bicycle to school. They will fund activities that range from foundational efforts to help start or sustain a program to new ideas that explore the range of benefits of safe walking and bicycling to school.

The National Center’s SRTS mini-grant program, now in its third award cycle, seeks creative ideas that match a school’s needs and interests together with ways to help improve safety and/or increase the number of students walking and rolling to school. Schools’ needs and interests could encompass a variety of different focus areas, including: addressing distracted driving and personal safety; engaging children with disabilities; emphasizing physical activity and health; exploring environmental concerns; contributing to a positive learning environment; or participating in civic discussion. Specific guidelines for fundable activities are available at www.saferoutesinfo.org/minigrants/eligibleactivities.

Applications are available now at www.saferoutesinfo.org/minigrants.

Funded activities must occur at an elementary or middle school between January 2011 and the end of the spring 2011 semester. Applications are due Friday,Nov. 19, 2010, by 8 p.m. EST and recipients will be announced January 2011.

November School Garden Ideas

Peanut Butter Lover’s Month:
Make “ants on a log” with your students. All you need is celery stalks, peanut butter, and raisins. Simply cut the celery sticks in half, spread peanut butter in the center, and place raisins on top! A healthy and fun snack that is sure to please everyone!

Native American Heritage Month: Take some time to learn about Native American cuisine. Did you know that the staple foods of the Eastern Woodlands Native Americans were corn, beans, and squash? Fruits and vegetables were also used medicinally and for dye. Try making a vegetable dyed shirt with your class. (See instructions in previous blog posts)

American Diabetes Month: A new study published in a British Medical Journal has found that eating high amounts of green leafy vegetables helps significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Nov. 14-20: American Education Week: A big thank you goes out to all the educators who try to provide every child with a quality education.

Nov. 1: Electric Light Bulb Patented: Try making a potato battery to light a LED light. It’s a great science experiment. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/g2CL3

National Family Literacy Day: Read a book such as “Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden” by George Levenson.

Nov. 2: Cookie Monster’s B-Day: Things have changed from when most of us were kids. Cookie Monster has changed his tune since 2006, showing awareness of healthy eating habits for kids. He has said that cookies are a “sometime snack” and that he also loves fruits and vegetables.

Election Day: Don’t forget to vote!

Nov. 3: Sandwich Day: Have students write a descriptive story about their favorite type of sandwich.

Nov. 7: Daylight Savings Time Ends: Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour.

Nov. 15: America Recycles Day: Recycling is more than just separating plastic and paper when it comes to your school garden. Hold a discussion about the importance of composting and consider starting your own compost!

Nov. 17: Take a Hike Day: Get active! Take a walk around the block, hike some nature trails, and just run, skip, jump, and play for the day.

Nov. 23: Eat a Cranberry Day: Visit a cranberry bog or invite a cranberry grower to come speak with your class. Did you know that Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with 26 cranberries?

Nov. 25: Thanksgiving Day: Enjoy this special holiday with your family! Consider having a locally grown thanksgiving meal.

What garden activities do you have planned for the month of November? Share them below!