Maine School Garden Network
Photography Courtesy of MSGN
Seeding tomorrow's growth, today
According to a 2018 report released by the Centers for Disease Control, only 9% of high school students meet the daily recommendation for consuming fruit, and only 2% meet the daily recommendation for consuming vegetables. These are just two of the numbers that motivate Maine School Garden Network (MSGN). Developed by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in 2002, MSGN is a group of volunteers who use their diverse experience and skills to promote the far-reaching value of adding a gardening curriculum to Maine’s schools. Part of their work is helping young people learn how to garden.
“Right now, MSGN is shifting from program development to promoting outreach and access of their critical programs to get kids growing,” says Erika Verrier, coordinator at MSGN. “Over the past 10 years we’ve developed some really great programs based on the needs we’ve identified in our network of over 130 schools throughout Maine. Each school represents between 50 and 1,000 students involved in the garden program so we touch a lot of people with a limited amount of resources.”
Three major support programs that MSGN developed most recently include:
- The School Garden Coach (SGC) Program, which defines a coach as a leader of the local garden program and has developed a robust handbook and a model that schools will want to adopt as a means of sustaining their critical garden education programs.
- The School Garden Grown Program, a collaboration with Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, used to promote awareness of school gardens within the community by connecting them with opportunities to showcase the fruits (and veggies) of their labor in exhibition halls at Maine agricultural fairs.
- The Garden Health Engagement, which uses integrated pest management practices to encourage garden educators to perceive pests and diseases in their own gardens as learning opportunities and to engage students in understanding their impact in keeping plants healthy and the challenges of growing food.
MSGN is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary this October at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. To keep up with what’s happening at MSGN or for help with a school garden, email email@example.com or follow MSGN on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MaineSchoolGardenNetwork/.