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Kids enjoying locally-grown food
These students at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta give a thumbs up to lunch trays filled with locally harvested apples, potatoes, corn and salad, from the article "Out of the Heart of the Community, Food for the Mouths of Schoolchildren," published in the Spring 2008 Maine Organic farmer & Gardener.


Articles

The 2012 School Garden Open House will take place on Saturday, September 29, 2012, in conjunction with Maine Harvest Lunch week (September 26 - 30.) Open House events will be held at schools and educational gardens across Maine and will raise awareness of the myriad benefits of garden programs.

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Leigh HayesSoon after I moved to the Lovell area from northern Maine, I began attending guided nature hikes offered by the Greater Lovell Land Trust (GLLT). Kevin Harding, a retired teacher turned naturalist, led the walks on established trails, pointing out animal tracks or scat, showing and telling how voles create underground tunnels to avoid being eaten by hawks or owls.

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MANS studentOn a typical day at the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (MeANS), agricultural specialist Jeff Chase is outside exploring with a small group of students how the forest floor is important for forest health – for water, nutrients and regeneration. And as one student, Zach, points out, “Otherwise the forest would be floating in the air.”

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Three Dates for Your Calendar
• Youth Art Contest and Art Show
• School Garden Open House
• BeanFest 2011

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2011 Maine School Garden Day; MSGN’s education-focused tent; MSGN’s Kids’ Art Contest; School Garden Open House; Bean Fest 2011; PeaceJam

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Recent projects of the Maine School Garden Network include a new website, organizing the Arugula to Zucchini Conference last summer, helping create the teacher resource tent at the Common Ground Country Fair last fall, and collaborating with Maine Agriculture in the Classroom to organize the Maine School Garden Day in May.

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Heifers at UNHMany Maine colleges and universities are taking significant steps toward greater sustainability, but few have made as substantial a commitment as the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in Durham to fostering a sustainable food community – on campus and beyond.

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Greenhouse of Telstar (GOT) Farms is an exciting program of the Telstar Middle School in Bethel, Maine.

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Unity College faculty recently passed two new degree programs in sustainability, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association staff, which helped design one of them – a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture, Food and Sustainability – will be involved in running it.

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Ashwood Waldorf SchoolIn December, I visited the Ashwood Waldorf School in Rockport, one of four Waldorf schools in Maine, to learn how food is incorporated into the curriculum. This school, which blossoms on 32 acres of fields and woods overlooking the Camden Hills, has 150 students in its preschool parent/child programs, mixed-age kindergartens and first through eighth grades.

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Kids enjoying locally-grown foodAs director of the Lincoln County Economic Development Office, Amy Winston has brought parents, teachers, students, health practitioners, school board members, school officials, farmers, businesses and other community members together around the concept that supporting local agriculture through farm-to-school programs is a viable economic development policy that brings innumerable benefits to the community.

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The reason school food service programs don’t offer more fresh, appealing, tasty meals to children may shock you: The programs are not funded by school districts. (If you know of a school district that does fund its food service program, I want to hear from you.) School food service directors must run their programs not as integral to children’s education, but as if they were businesses. They must bring in enough income to cover expenses, so costs are cut wherever possible.

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Chewonki farm tourNestled between salt marsh and woods, tangent to a school and a summer camp, lies the Chewonki Foundation’s Salt Marsh Farm. The rolling 25 acres have a long history of fertility on this peninsula in Wiscasset. Before they became part of the Chewonki Foundation in 1960, they were the home and livelihood of a family. Now the family-farm philosophy is being embraced again, this time in a way that complements production with education, and that weaves community members into the process of production.

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Garden at Islesboro Central SchoolBob Berg, a cheerful, older man, drives up to the Islesboro Central School (ICS) parking area, opens his trunk, and transfers tomatoes, leeks, cucumbers and other fresh, colorful vegetables from the back of John Pincince’s truck. “Do you come to Islesboro for the summer?” I ask Bob. “No,” he answers, his eyes sparkling. “I come for the vegetables!”

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As part of the campaign to stimulate a viable local food system, Western Mountains Alliance and the Maine Alternative Agriculture Association are working to put fresh, locally grown produce in two local school systems. Long range, the goal is to have a variety of foods grown on local farms served from fall to spring in school kitchens.

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The University of New Hampshire will establish an organic dairy farm for research, education and outreach, making it the nation’s first land-grant university to have an organic dairy farm. Londonderry, N.H., industry leader Stonyfield Farm has donated $200,000 to the estimated $1.5 million project.

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Resurgence magazine is marking its 40th anniversary by starting a School of Organic Gardening and Cooking, after longstanding supporter Mehr Fardoonji donated her 2-1/2-acre organic market garden in Cheshire to the organization.

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25-page School Garden Subcommittee report from Slow Food U.S.A.

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Don White and Steve Tanguay"We love being in the garden and really look forward to it. This is the funnest class we have." "We're so lucky to have a program like this." These are some of many rave reviews that Troy Howard Middle School (THMS) students in Belfast, Maine, give about their school's food and garden program. Teachers, administrators, parents and community groups also are enthusiastic about a program that produces more than 4000 pounds of food a year and has transformed the school's curriculum as well as student attitudes about eating, school and life.

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Students Baking a LivingA calm, composed voice answers the phone. “Students Baking a Living, how may I help you?” asks Beckie Nersessian, high school junior. I ask to speak to Sarah Ulman, director of the Fort Fairfield High School baking program in Fort Fairfield, Maine. After a brief conversation, Ulman leaves to take roll call and hands the phone back to Nersessian. Ulman later explains that Students Baking a Living emphasizes student involvement with every aspect of the program – including public relations.

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Keith Rose, Pat Hopkins and Dalene DuttonKeith Rose, Pat Hopkins and Dalene Dutton work closely together to ensure that the IPM program at Camden Hills Regional High School is observed. During the 2000-2001 academic year, pesticides were used only for one infestation of whitefly; the rest of the school, indoors and out, remained pesticide-free.

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