May 2022- Ohio School Gardens, Summer Gardens, Seed Starting in the Classroom
Ohio Farm to School Monthly Newsletter
Cultivators + Classrooms + Cafeterias
Issue # 7 | May 2022
Malabar Intermediate Garden in Mansfield, Ohio.
Spring is here and classes are winding down, which is the perfect time to be thinking about our school and childcare center gardens. In this month’s edition of the Ohio Farm to School Newsletter, take a closer look at maintaining and using the school garden year-round, and plan ahead for seed starting in the classroom throughout the year.
Preparing the Garden for Summer
Option One – No Summer Maintenance: If the school team is unable to maintain the garden over the summer, put the garden “to bed” before summer break.
Harvest any remaining produce.
Store any tools, hoses, signage, etc…
Cover with black plastic. This will assist in weed control.
Photo: This raised bed garden is covered with black plastic for the summer. The school garden will be ready to go when the children return to school in the fall.
Option Two – Summer Maintenance: Tips for a successful school garden year-round:
Recruit a team dedicated to summer gardening.
Set specific plans and goals with your team.
Water regularly and fertilize appropriately.
Pull weeds quickly, before they go to seed.
Use only a smaller portion of the garden so there will be a space for the students to learn in when returning to school.
Plan your garden to include veggies can be harvested into the following school year.
Pickaway County Community Action Head Start and Southside Early Learning and Development Center have been growing seedlings indoors over the winter! Indoor growing activities are paired with a garden education curriculum including songs, books, and games teaching the children where food comes from and how it is grown.
Photo: Preschoolers at Pickaway County Community Action Head Start water their individual plants weekly.
Columbus City Schools maintains 61 gardens, thanks to “rockstar” teachers and a district-level K12 Farm to School Coordinator. Students have been learning the “paper towel method” to prepare seedlings for their gardens. Try this technique in your own gardens by placing a dot of glue on a paper towel, sticking a seed onto the glue, and planting the paper towel in your garden bed. Radishes, spinach, and kale work especially well for this growing activity. Expect plants to pop up within a couple of weeks depending on the variety, making this a perfect May Farm to School activity!
Photos: Students at Columbus City Schools start seeds using the “paper towel method.”
Malabar Intermediate School in Mansfield (grades 4-6) built a high tunnel with the help of generous grant awards and community partners. Farmers from the local Richland Gro-Op, the North End Community Improvement Collaborative, Ohio State University Mansfield Campus, and Central State University Extension helped students prepare and plant and were a huge part of the first crop success. Over the summer, a team of staff, families, and community members will care for the garden for students to harvest in August. The students have big plans for pickles and tomato sauces in the fall!
Photos: Malabar Intermediate students use their high tunnels to integrate projects from different subject areas. Carrots harvested are turned into juice and cake by the AG Tech class and science classes observed and documented growth with scientific illustrations and other activities. Crops in their first-year winter harvest included spinach, carrots, radishes, cilantro, swiss chard, mixed greens, and beets. Those carrots and radishes sure do look delicious!
Carrollton Exempted Village School District’s garden, located in rural Carroll County, received funding for raised beds located in their greenhouse courtyard, hired a part-time outdoor educator, and utilized grow towers throughout the schools for classroom activities and cafeteria use. Students grow cherry tomatoes, lettuce, radish, beets, cucumbers, and zucchini in the grow towers. School grown produce is harvested in late summer and fall for the cafeteria and taste panels.
The students also hold an annual Mother’s Day plant sale. Flowers and herbs, including a few pizza pots, salsa pots, and chicken noodle soup pots (thyme, sage, parsley) are sold for fundraising.
The garden is maintained by the school’s Outdoor Educator and FFA Greenhouse management class. This summer, a few students and families will adopt a bed and water and maintain the bed through the summer, in coordination with the Outdoor Educator and Food Service Director.
Want to be featured in the next monthly newsletter and on Ohio’s Farm to School Websites? Share your F2S success stories with us! Submit your F2S Success Story here!
The Pilot Light Food Education Fellowship
Applications are open for The Pilot Light Food Education Fellowship for teachers for the 2022-2023 school year. Teachers can apply herethrough May 23rd, 2022. The Food Education Fellowship was created to invest in PreK-12th grade teacher leaders who are committed to bringing food education to their students. Fellows receive$2,000 stipend for participation and evaluation + $250 for classroom materials
Interested in seed starting in the classroom this spring, next fall, or even winter? Check out this step-by-step seed starting video.
The United States Department of Agriculture released guidance on the use of nonprofit food service account funds for Farm to School Garden Expenses. Child nutrition program participants are encouraged to contact their program specialists at the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Nutrition, for individual review of allowable food service funds for school gardens.
4H Project Green Teacher Hybrid Series; School Garden Education Series
4-H Project Green Teacher is a school garden educational program for educators. Find additional information and register here.
Ohio Farm to School Network Quarterly Meeting
Mark your calendar for the next Ohio Farm to School Network meetings on, June 9th, September 8th, and December 8th.
State-level updates will take place at 9:30-11, with region-specific discussions 11-noon. For more information on Ohio Farm to School, visit the website and Facebook page.
Ohio School Nutrition Association Conference
Mark your calendars for this conference on June 14th – 16th. Learn more here.
Farm to Summer
Celebrate Farm to School the whole year through with Farm to Summer! Join us for Ohio Farm to Summer Week June 20-24, our first Ohio Cucumber Crunch, or plan activities throughout the summer.
Thank you to the following contributors:
Tim McDermott, Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator, Ohio State University Extension
Pickaway Community Action Center and Southside Learning and Development Center
Columbus City Schools
Malabar Intermediate School
Carrollton Exempted Village School District
Haley Scott, Ohio Farm to School Program Assistant, Ohio State University Extension
Lauren Preston, Ohio Farm to School Program Intern, Ohio State University Extension