Garden Grants Opportunities

While presenting my “Growing Outdoor Classroom” professional development this fall many participants asked for help in locating grants to help defray the costs. In an upcoming Module called “Funding & Power of Story”, I will share lots of tips and tricks to finding money and resources for your Outdoor Classroom. (Keep in touch by subscribing to my blog by adding your email to my newsletter subscription on the top right column.)

This blog post is a collection of  Garden Grant Opportunities to help you get started. Many funders have annual awards with various deadlines, so you will need to click around and mark the calendar for when grants open and when deadlines are approaching. Writing grants is easier than it sounds. The best tip is to read through ALL of the guidelines and make sure to pick grants that match the focus of your outdoor classroom or garden. There are literally thousands of grants out there….and this is just a sampling!

KidsGardening Grant Opportunities
KidsGardening has the most extensive list of different grants that are awarded throughout the year. https://kidsgardening.org/grant-opportunities/

Youth Garden Grant 2020 = deadline is Dec. 17th and it looks pretty easy to apply. Garden grant for any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States or US Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply! https://kidsgardening.org/2020-youth-garden-grant/

Head Start Garden Grant Program
Sponsored by Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, this grant program is specifically available to Head Start Programs https://www.nhsa.org/our-work/initiative/gro-more-good-garden-grants

KaBOOM! Playground Grants
KaBoom! offers grants to improve playgrounds  https://kaboom.org/grants/build_it_with_kaboom

Seed Money
Seed Money is a national nonprofit based in Maine that provides grants, crowdfunding opportunities, and training to food garden projects around the country and world. Check out their website to see the kinds of projects that have already been funded. https://seedmoney.org/

Shade Structure Grant
“The American Academy of Dermatology offers a “Shade Structure Grant Program” which awards grants of up to $8,000 to public schools and non-profit organizations for installing permanent shade structures for outdoor locations that are not protected from the sun, such as playgrounds, pools, or recreation spaces.” https://www.aad.org/member/career/volunteer/shade

Wild Ones Seeds for Education Grants
If adding native plants to your landscape is your garden focus, research the Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Fund which awards from $150 to $500 to each selected grant project to purchase native plants and seeds to help establish a hands-on nature education area for youth engagement.  https://wildones.org/ (Click on Seeds for Education near top of website)

Annies Grants for Gardens Program Grants are open each year in August, https://www.annies.com/giving-back/grants-for-gardens  Or  you can download a beginner’s guide to creating a school garden anytime at this link –https://www.annies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Growing-School-Gardens_Annies-Homegrown.pdf

 

Check out other “April’s Teaching Tree” blog posts related to Gardening and Food Education:

Gardening Book for Teachers

Communicating Food Education & Mealtime to Families

Seeds, seeds, seeds

Farm to School Early Education Resources

Sprouting in a Jar

Sprouting in a Jar

I grew up with a mom who loved plants, and who always had small businesses that involved plants. In fact, I helped my mom build a greenhouse at three different properties she owned. Growing plants is one way that I feel connected to my mom and to my childhood roots.

1980’s Childhood with my two older brothers! ~Willow Grove, Delaware ~

So naturally, as a teacher and parent, I prioritize teaching children about their food and think it’s empowering for children to learn how to grow their own food.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to grow sprouts in jars. It takes very little time, space, or effort….and kids LOVE to watch the changes that occur from day to day. Children also are more likely to eat food that they’ve helped to grow!

“How to Grow Your Own Sprouts”

Read the package of your Sprouting Seeds for more specific guidelines, but there really are only a few steps.

Step 1 – Wash a couple mason jars, add 1-2 Tablespoons of seeds, fill with water and allow to sit over night (or about 8 hours). Drain and rinse, lie jar on its side.

Step 2 – Every morning and night, rinse the seeds, drain, shake to distribute them around the jar, and lie jar on its side. (Singing to the seeds is completely optional but my inner preschool teacher knows singing grows happier sprouts.)

Step 3 – In about five days your sprouts will be ready to eat. Just give them a final rinse and eat! I like to serve our fresh sprouts on a platter with raw veggies. This winter I have taken to making veggie art and posting it on Instagram….because I think we all need friendly reminders to ‘eat the rainbow’!

Stop on over to Instagram and follow Aprils_Teaching_Tree for your sprout/veggie man updates!

And…I’ve finally gotten over my fear of posting videos of myself. {Drum roll please…} Here is my first ever video explaining the process of sprouting. Click on the link for my YouTube tutorial and subscribe if you’d like updates when my weekly videos are published!

 

Seeds, seeds, seeds

As spring begins to arrive we start to think about sprouting seeds and begin dreaming of our gardens. There are countless different ways for us to explore, examine, investigate, germinate, and even feast on seeds. Here is just a sampling of the seed investigations that I have offered, throughout the year, in the preschool programs I have taught in.

Some of favorite seed investigations include:

Seed Exploration Bin – add a variety of seeds or dry beans for closer observation and exploration. Larger seeds such as sunflower, wheat, peas, corn, pumpkin, and beans are great for sensory bins. If you have a large collection of seeds, put them into a bin so kids can scoop, sort, and pour.

Seed Exploration Trays – If you have a small amount of seeds, use trays with bowls.Try saving seeds pods from nature to explore as a cost free alternative. I keep a metal cookie tin in my science center with a nice variety of seeds for children to explore.

“Ziploc Greenhouse & Bean Seeds” – soak beans overnight. Decorate their own greenhouse sheet. Child moistens a paper towel and folds & lays it in the bottom of their Ziploc baggie. Place 3-4 bean seeds onto the towel and partly close the bag. Tape bag to the greenhouse and hang in window. Observe the greenhouse each day and record on “My Observation Log” sheet. (Note: if your classroom windows are cold because of outdoor freezing temperatures, do not hang them in the window because the germination will slow or not sprout at all.) Free printable here: http://kindergartencrayons.blogspot.com/2013/04/growing-beans-like-jack-did-freebie-fun.html

 

Greenhouse – small collapsible ‘greenhouses’ can be purchased such as this one pictured on the right. This mini four shelf unit with a plastic zippered covering was sold at our local Ocean State Job Lots for only $20. This allowed me to grow a larger number of seeds so we could have seedlings both for our school garden and for children to take home seedlings!

Seed Trays Indoors – children delight in seeing multiple types of seeds sprouting next to each other in a tray. It is fun to do daily observations of the sprouts to compare growth, color, texture, and germination rates! If you have access to a grow light and warming seed mat the seeds will grow stronger, but even a sunny window is enough for our young scientists

Seed and Plant Matching – print the matching cards from http://www.montessoriprintshop.com/Free_Montessori_Downloads.html

Have small containers of the nine types of seeds. Display the seeds with the matching cards – Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame, Flax, Fennel, Cumin, Poppy, Pomegranate, and Mustard. Children love this matching game!

 

 “Our Seed Book” – this site has 4 different printable covers and detailed directions here http://www.prekinders.com/2012/04/make-a-seed-book/   This Ziploc bag book is made with empty seed packets and real seeds. It’s great to compare the sizes, colors, and shapes of seeds.

 

Examining Seeds – open several seed packets and compare the size, color, and shape of the seeds! Children are often surprised to find out that some seeds have a scent, which is easiest to detect with herb seeds.

Seed Sprouting Necklaces – moisten a cotton ball and put it inside a mini jeweler’s Ziploc bag. Add a seed and close the bag. Poke a hole in the top of the bag and add a yarn or hemp necklace. Make the length of the necklace so it fall where the child’s heart is ~ the warmth of their heart will help the sprout grow. After the roots and first leaves appear, transplant into a small pot and then later into the garden when it’s warm.

Surprise Garden –let children choose from 6-8 different types of seeds, they plant their own container. Let them sprout at school, then send home. Send a list of plants that might be included in the garden.

Sprouting in a Jar – a fun year-round activity is to grow sprouts in mason jars. Start them on Monday and by the end of the week the children can feast on a fresh batch of sprouts!

Finding the Seeds– bring in a variety of fresh fruits and veggies. Cut them open and have the kids help you find where the seeds are located. Scoop and spread out the seeds to dry. These can be planted (though some may not sprout) and others could be used in art projects.  Also try finding seeds in other foods we eat….such as delicious local bagels!

No sun. No soil. No Water. Experiment-take three Ziploc bags and write one sentence on each. One another bag add a small amount of dirt, some water, and three bean seeds. In each other the other bags add three bean seeds and do whatever the sentence says. (ex. the ‘no sun’ bag add the beans, dirt, and water but hide it in a shady place) Observe the bags for a couple of weeks and discuss the results.

Harvesting Seeds – look around outdoors for dry seed pods either from the garden or the wild garden in the forest. Lupine is one type of seeds that are easy for little hands to harvest and then can spread the native species seeds on the edges of the school yard!

Exotic Fruit – children develop their palette in early childhood…so why not bring in unusual and exotic fruits. Try to see how different seeds look in fruits from other parts of the world.

Seeds & Balance Scales- another way to explore seeds to weigh and compare them using balance scales

Grass Heads – this project helps children see how grass or wheat grows. First decorate small clear cups with wiggly eyes and construction paper glued on. (The clear cups let children see the roots, but small pots could also be used.) After the faces are dry, add a small amount of rocks in the bottom of the cup for drainage. Then add potting soil leaving ½ an inch from the top of the cup. Finally add the wheat seeds. Moisten the soil and mist once a day until it sprouts. Show kids how to give their ‘Grass Head’ a haircut.

So many engaging ways to explore seeds….all while dreaming of the days when the garden is in bloom again!

Books about Seeds:

A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by J. Richards

A Seed is Sleepy by D. H. Aston

From Seed to Plant by Allan Fowler

From Seed to Pumpkin by W. Pfeffer

How a Seed Grows by H. Jordan

I’m a Seed by J. Marzollo (compares pumpkin to marigolds)

Just a Seed by W. Blaxland

Oh Say Can You Seed? All About Flowering Plants by B. Worth

One Little Seed by E. Greenstein

Seeds Like These by Paki Carter

Spring is Here! A Story About Seeds by Joan Holub

The Carrot Seed by R. Krauss

The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

We Plant a Seed (Troll First Start Science)

Digging Deeper Conference

 

IMG_9236.jpgI am so excited to be presenting at the “Digging Deeper Conference” that will be held at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont. This will be a one day conference on Thursday, May, 24th 2018 and there are three different tracks participants can register for!

 

Click here to register for the Digging Deeper Conference

“Digging Deeper Conference”
Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Time: 9am – 4:30pm
Looking for ways to integrate your classroom curriculum in the garden? Or want to learn some new strategies with introducing new foods or building confidence and strategies in cooking with our youngest age groups? Or are you hoping to connect with a local farm and not sure how or want to hear how others are connecting classrooms to farms? Join us on Thursday, May 24th for a day to discover how to bring these connections back to your classroom and everyday curriculum for place-based learning at its best!  Choose your track for the day to fully immerse yourself. Each track offers endless opportunities for learning!

Tracks

Please note that you will pick one track during the registration process. This will help support a stronger learning community and give participants ample time for experiential learning, discussion, and peer networking. View each track description below.

Fun with Local Foods Track with Abbie Nelson and Marissa Watson

Preparing and serving new foods can be more fun and less arduous, with a few tools and by involving kids in the process. In this workshop we will explore how people develop food preferences, and how we change these preferences. We will share innovations in purchasing, serving, and educating kids about local foods through simple activities and recipes.

Participants will:

  • Learn how we develop food preferences and how to introduce new and local foods to kids.
  • Practice incorporating nutrition education into food-based experiences.
  • Learn how to find and properly procure local foods.

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Gardening All Year Track with April Zajko

Do you want to help children connect to the natural world through gardening, composting, and observing the seasonal changes? This workshop will explore how to implement a year-round study of plants, using both indoor and outdoor gardening activities. Participants will leave with many ideas for creating engaging learning environments, lists of suggested plants for children, science experiments, tips for sensory explorations, and meaningful ways to get young children growing plants all year!
Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will discuss ways to incorporate both indoor and outdoor gardening concepts into preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
2. Participants will investigate a variety of ways to create engaging learning explorations to teach characteristics of living organisms and local ecosystems.

Kid Friendly Farmyard Track with Michaela Ryan and JoAnne Denee

Join Michaela Ryan and JoAnne Dennee in exploring the range of what farm and garden tasks are conducive to young helping hands. This will include an off-site visit to the farmyard at New Village Farm to explore tending chickens, sheep, cows, and goats, along with milking a cow or goat and collecting eggs. We will navigate these tasks together while facilitating a conversation about what it can be like to do so with young children. We will touch on essentials like allowing time and breath for observations with all the senses, embracing the cycle of life including birth and death, managing children resistant to engage, and building a partnership with a farm. As time permits we will explore managing other tasks with children in nature and gardens because we feel that a mix of animal care and earth care strike a nice balance of building an eagerness to work and participate in the world in young children.

A few words from past participants:

I thought the format was so well thought out.
I loved it! I didn’t feel rushed or on a time limit. It helped me to be in the moment.
This experience was super inspiring. You are deeply passionate folks teaching an important subject in a beautiful place – keep them coming!
The flow worked really well – keynote speakers, breaking out into smaller groups & moving!, coming back together, breaking out again!

Facilitator Bios:

Abbie Nelson is the NOFAVT, Food Systems Education Director, and Program Director of VTFood Education Every Day (VT FEED), a 18 year-old statewide Farm to School Project of NOFAVT, and Shelburne Farms. Abbie serves as a statewide school food system consultant and trainer involved in aspects of local purchasing and professional development with school food service. She has been working with statewide partners to advance access to local foods in institutions as a member of the VT Farm to Plate, and the VT FTS Network.
Marissa Watson is the NOFAVT School Food Programs Coordinator for VT FEED. She came to NOFA after falling in love with the Farm to School program in Georgia, where she got her MS in Agricultural Economics. For the past five years, she has worked as a farm manager for two different farms in South Carolina. Her career began in Washington, DC, with National Geographic and Discovery Television. While travelling to produce a television series, she dove into books about organic agriculture, and became hooked on the idea of making fresh food available to children and families. She enjoys working in the community to connect all kinds of people with local, organic food. She lives in Burlington with her pup Wilson, who is always a handful and always ready to play outside.
April Zajko, M.Ed. is the founder and owner of April’s Teaching Tree, which aims to help parents and educators renew their interest in connecting children to nature. April has led professional development programs for hundreds of teachers and child care providers throughout the state of Vermont, and is now exploring ways to share her courses with people around the globe ~~through curriculum downloads and online e-courses. April is a Licensed Early Childhood Educator and Reading Specialist. Her bachelor’s degree was earned at the Delaware State University, and her master’s degree was earned at University of Virginia. Her passion for lifelong learning has led her to numerous studies through Shelburne Farms, Fairy Dust Teaching, and Heart Space Yoga…as well as many other programs. Through the last 17 years, April has taught early education programs in both public and private schools. Currently she teaches preschool at a public school in Vermont. Through these various roles, she has learned many ways to connect to children and families, and loves to share this knowledge with other interested professionals. April hopes to share meaningful ways to use nature to meet early childhood standards through play-based learning, nature infused materials, and joyful learning environments!
JoAnne Dennee grew up spending her childhood afternoons bike riding away to the far edges of her suburban neighborhood to find respite in the embracing shelter of the thickets and wild places.  She has witnessed the great joy and transformative power when children experience their lives through farm, food, and forest education. She began growing food organically in children’s gardens for 9 years before moving to VT to teach at Poker Hill and then Lake Champlain Waldorf for the next 35 years. Author of  In the Three Sisters Garden she currently creates visual art from her gardens, mentors teachers in biodynamic gardening with children, and develops nutrition based programs for Common Roots VT.
Michaela Ryan: Growing up on a sheep farm in southern Quebec, Michaela Ryan found her way back to farming after spending a few years as an Environmental Engineer, a full time mother and then a Grief Recovery Specialist.  She is the founder of New Village Farm, a Biodynamic Learning Farm right here in the backyard of Shelburne Farms. She particularly enjoys working with cows and vivacious children who need a little more space than their modern upbringings often afford them.  Her inspiration to start an education farm was born of her deep love of growing up on a farm and her awareness that she is unlikely to have made it this far without the strength of will, love of the outdoors, and fundamental sense of belonging that came of it.  She is excited to share with you what nuggets of wisdom have come out of her 10 year journey of farming with children.

Children’s Books to Inspire Gardening

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Little bitty plants for our patio planters…but oh how they grow all summer!

 

Books about Gardening, Vegetables & Plants:

Corn is Maize by Aliki

Eating the Alphabet – Lois Ehlert

Food Alphabet by David Drew

From Eye to Potato (Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: How Things Grow)

How Are You Peeling? By Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

How Does your Garden Grow? (Little Golden Book)

Inch by Inch – The Garden Song by David Mallet

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

Mr. Hobson’s Garden by Marc Gave

Nuts About Nuts by Diane Wilmer and Paul Dowling

Over in the Garden by Jennifer Ward (insects)

Plants by Terry Jennings

The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola

The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Vegetables in the Garden – A First Discovery Book

 

Books about Flowers:  

Flowers: A First Discovery Book

How to Grow a Sunflower by S. Karavis and G. Matthews

It’s Science! Plants and Flowers

Let’s Look at Flowers

Sunflower House by Eve Buntin

The Reason for a Flower by R. Hellert

 

Books about plant parts:

Flowers/Fruits/Leaves/Roots/Seeds/Stems by Vijaya Khisty Bodach

Books about Beans:  

Growing Beans by Peter & Sheryl Sloan (uses egg shells)

One Bean by Anne Rockwell

Scarlette Beane by K. Wallace

 

Books about Seeds:

A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by J. Richards

A Seed is Sleepy by D. H. Aston

From Seed to Plant by Allan Fowler

From Seed to Pumpkin by W. Pfeffer

How a Seed Grows by H. Jordan

I’m a Seed by J. Marzollo (compares pumpkin to marigolds)

Just a Seed by W. Blaxland

Oh Say Can You Seed? All About Flowering Plants by B. Worth

One Little Seed by E. Greenstein

Seeds Like These by Paki Carter

Spring is Here! A Story About Seeds by Joan Holub

The Carrot Seed by R. Krauss

The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

We Plant a Seed (Troll First Start Science)

 

 

Books about Fruit:  

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Each Orange Had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti

Fruit – A First Discovery Book.

Orange Juice by B. Chessen, P. Chanko

 

Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas for gardening with children:

Favorite Plants for Children

*Involve the children in picking out the seeds or plants! Their sense of ownership and excitement for gardening is amplified when they are decision makers in what is planted.

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* Keep kids involved in ALL steps — selecting, buying, planting, caring & harvesting! Include composting too so children see the full cycle. One of my children’s favorite job is turning the soil and adding fresh compost to the garden bed. It’s fun to see that rich dark soil and imagine all the wonderful things that will grow there!

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Indoor plants spider plants, hens & chicks, Swedish ivy, African violets, Boston Ferns, and Venus Fly Traps are all great plants for kids to tend year-round. Indoor plants help improve the air quality and children benefit by caring for live plants.

IMG_1652Flowers — are always enjoyable because of their color and aroma, favorites include:

Geraniums a favorite because they will bloom nearly all summer and are easy to overwinter indoors. I love that they even bloom indoors in the winter!

Marigold – easy to grow, come in wide variety of sizes and colors, and easy to dry & collect the seeds. I like to start marigolds in March to be ready as Mother’s Day gifts in May!

Sunflowers– easy to grow, select a variety of sizes from 3 foot to the Mammoth 12ft variety, lots of different colors. Observe them throughout the day to see how the flower moves to gather sunlight. When done flowering, cut off the flower head and dry for several weeks. Collect seeds by shaking them into a bag. Use to feed the birds or save for the next planting season.

Hollyhock– grows very tall and once established comes back year after year

Snapdragons – unique shape, imaginative name, and beautiful colors

Lambs Ear – is a fuzzy and soft plant that is silvery-green. Kids love to rub the velvety leaves!

 

Herbs — are fragrant, easy to grow, and most are perennials (which means they come back each year). Make a Pizza Garden with oregano, thyme, and basil. Dill is easy to sprout and the foliage is feathery and unique. Mints should be grown in a separate patch so it can grow untamed, just don’t plant too near to your garden because it can be invasive. Mint comes in a wide variety including orange, chocolate, lemon, and pineapple.

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Vegetables — are wonderful to grow to show children where their food comes from. Often reluctant eaters will eat the vegetables that they have helped to grow. Favorites include lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, peas, beans, and pumpkins. Radishes are quick to grow and help satisfy kid’s eagerness to pick something!

Fruit — berries are a favorite for children. Strawberries are an early crop so consider having at least a few plants. Blueberries, black berries, and raspberries are wonderful to pick fresh with children. Once established you will be picking these for years to come. Think long term and plant an apple tree!

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Children will enjoy the plants that you enjoy. Help them select a few and get their fingers into the soil!

Check out my Pinterest board for more information about gardening with children:

Gardening with Children: Tips & Tricks

Decide what you define as a successful garden.

If this is your first year gardening with children, my best tips is to start small so that the garden will be manageable and enjoyable. You do not want it to become one more chore and become a burden! IMG_2439

  • Make the garden a child-centered project by involving the kids in every step of the process. From selecting the plants in a gardening catalog, planting seeds, getting the soil read, planting, tending, and harvesting. Allow the children to be part of the entire process!
  • Take a field trip to select and buy plants. If that isn’t feasible, have children help you select plants by circling or cutting out pictures from a seed catalog.
  • If this is school or child care project, try to involve the families in your program by asking parents to each send in one or two plants for the garden, to volunteer to come in to plant, tend to the garden in the summer, and/or to help with the fall harvest.
  • Have the children help you prepare the pots or turn the garden, and then let them help you plant the seeds or plants.
  • Young children do better with larger seeds such as pumpkin, squash, sunflower, or corn. Tiny seeds will often end up clumped together, but you can always thin the seedlings later.
  • Children will help you maintain the garden if you help them see it as fun and enjoyable.
  • Keep kid tasks in the garden to 10 minutes. They will be more excited to help in small chunks of time, such as weeding for ten minutes in the morning and 10 more minutes at lunchtime, then asking them to do a repetitive task for longer.
  • Teach kids how to weed and how to recognize which plants to pull. Make a game of who can fill their bin first, and whoever gets their bin full helps the others.
  • Photograph and journal about the garden throughout the growing season. Keep these mementos out for the kids to view throughout the year so interest in gardening is maintained.