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Monthly news & updates
July 2021 | Issue #118
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Our School Gardens: Where Parasites Can be Good, Zombie Aphids Better, and Using Practical IPM is the Best
Article by Bernie Welch
Perhaps there is a good side to the movie “Alien” after all or so it seemed when students and educators in Etna/Dixmont, Thomaston, Damariscotta, Belfast, Penobscot and several other schools saw the work of a tiny parasitic wasp (Aphidius Colemani) as she used her ovipositor to turn an unsuspecting aphid into a host for her offspring. And then a short time later the new wasps emerge “Alien-like” from inside the zombie aphid shell. This is but the beginning of the drama in the garden our student investigators had the chance to experience as we learned that insects can be beneficial as well as destructive in the garden at school and at home.  

We learned it is up to the observer to collect insects, sketch, and identify them. We found out that Integrated Pest Management means knowing when to give mother nature a “nudge” by planting things that attract beneficial insects and keeping gardens tidy so as not to provide a home for more destructive pests. We used magnifying glasses, and insect identification keys all provided by Maine Agriculture in the Classroom to find out just what was in the garden. Collecting insect data also opened our eyes to the ever changing needs of the garden as plants grow, temperatures change and spring deepens into summer or summer to fall.  

Thinking ahead about what to plant and where to plant using the knowledge about beneficial insects has become second nature to all of us as we consider the entire garden environment. How can we attract pollinators and deter pests? We began thinking about the garden on a larger scale and this helped our thinking to assist nature rather than spray it.

So even though none of our students (or teachers for that matter) volunteered to become a zombie, we were certainly happy they were among us, parasites and all.
Maine School Garden DAYS
Join Maine School Garden Network for our third session of Maine School Garden Days - yes, plural! Our next session will focus on connections between the school garden, taste tests, and Maine's Harvest of the Month program. We'll also receive a tour of the amazing RSU 22 school gardens from garden coordinator Brittany Layman. We look forward to seeing you on August 7!
Please email for more information.

If you missed a past session, you can watch the video recordings HERE.
Two New Book Read Alouds!
Have you checked out our video library on our website lately?!
We have read aloud videos of all six of our Agriculture for ME books, as well as some other great videos highlighting agriculture in Maine. We just recently added two new book read alouds. Join Oyster Annie to learn more about aquaculture!
"Farming on the Sea" by Kellie Peters
Learn about oyster farming!
"The Farm on the Sea" by Deborah Irvine Anderson
Learn about the stages of salmon farming!
Funding Opportunity
The Little Seeds Pollinator Pals Grant presented by Little Seeds and KidsGardening is designed to support youth garden programs interested in preserving and creating pollinator habitats to help rebuild declining pollinator populations. In 2021, eighteen programs will be awarded a check for $500 to support the development of new and expansion of existing pollinator gardens in communities across the United States. Learn more and apply.
Applications are due July 30th.
Resources to check out!
Check out this free printable board game from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
"Farm to Cart" is geared for PreK & Elementary ages.
School Nutrition’s June/July issue featured “Making the Most of Harvest of the Month,” chock-full of easy, effective strategies to launch or expand a Harvest of the Month (HOM) cafeteria-led nutrition education initiative. Check it out for more ideas to further develop the HOM program in your school!
Check out this great resource: Summer in the School Garden. This is a resource designed to help school garden coordinators effectively maintain their school gardens during the summer. Success during the summer starts by building strong relationships with volunteers during the school year, so many of the recommendations are applicable throughout the year and focus on how to best work with volunteers.
Check out the Maine Farm to School Cook-Off Cookbooks! Full of great recipes using local foods!
Harvest of the Month - July is Maine Summer Squash!
Teacher Resources Section
Eating Plants. Grades K-2. Students will identify the structure and function of six plant parts and classify fruits and vegetables according to which parts of the plants are edible.

Many Types of Farms. Grades 3-5. Students will explore the sources of a variety of agricultural products and discover that farms can be diverse in size and in products that are grown and raised.

Water Quality. Grades 6-8. Students investigate the effects of added soil nutrients on water quality, perform chemical and physical tests on water samples, collect and identify macroinvertebrates from a freshwater system and compare physical, chemical and biological factors of an aquatic ecosystem to determine water health.

Conserving Bumble Bees. Grades 9-12. This lesson introduces the importance of bumble bees and other pollinators. Using a case study approach, students will examine bumble bee population surveys and use the scientific method to discuss possible causes for the decline of pollinators. Students will then determine which land management conservation strategies in agricultural ecosystems are most successful in attracting and supporting bumble bee populations.

Looking for more? Explore the Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix HERE
Activities & Resources
Grains and Legumes of the World. This hands-on activity explores grains and legumes common in global agricultural production—barley, dent corn, popcorn, oats, rice, wheat, soybeans, lentils, and pinto beans. Students create their own journals that include important facts, descriptions, and samples of the seeds of these crops. Teachers can use the information to expand students’ knowledge of agriculture while connecting to lessons in social studies and science. This kit contains enough seeds for a classroom of 35 students. A master copy of the grains and legumes information cards is also included. Order this kit online from

Activity: What Do Plants Need to Grow? This activity reviews the fundamentals required for plants to survive. This activity is best used after students have learned about a plants' basic necessities (air, water, light, and nutrients). The activity also demonstrates the many ways that humans rely on plants in everyday life.
Calling School Gardens! School Garden Grown Project
School Garden Grown Project
Maine fairs are ramping up for in-person events this summer! School gardens can exhibit their produce, create excitement for students, and build awareness, with cash prizes to benefit the garden program! MSGN is in partnership with Maine Agriculture in the Classroom to provide information on this amazing project with your LOCAL fair!

For more information email
Maple Curriculum Support: Tapping into Maple Tradition - Lessons for K-12 Classrooms.

Looking for field trips? Check out Get Real Get Maine's Food, Farms, and Forest Search

ReTreeUS plants orchards in schools and provides educational programs that empower people to be healthy environmental stewards.

See the Maine Farm to School Census here. Are you participating?

Maine School Garden Network provides resources and technical assistance for all school gardens across Maine!

Search the National Ag in the Classroom Curriculum Matrix for resources

Fuel Up to Play 60 offers educators a wide array of resources they can use to help students make sustainable changes in their school environment.

Agroworld is an agricultural science e-zine developed for the secondary educator.

KidsGardening has ideas about plants and gardens, teacher resources, and grant opportunities.

The Chop Chop magazine and website has easy and healthy recipes.

American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has curriculum, games, and resources available for educators and students.
Funding from this plate has impacted up to 200,000 students annually with lessons, materials, volunteers and teacher training. Annually up to $60K is distributed in grants to schools, FFA, 4-H and other Non-profit programs for Ag education initiatives by the Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Council.
Donate today to The Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Association
The Non-profit, completely volunteer, portion of MAITC. These funds are used directly to support teacher scholarships and recognition, and support volunteer participation for Ag education programs. Your donation is completely tax deductible and you can make a one-time donation or a recurring monthly donation which will support the mission, "to promote the understanding of agriculture and natural resources among students, educators, and the general public." If you have any other questions or would like to join this group please contact the chairman, Maryjane StaffordDonate Here.
Our Mission Statement
"To promote the understanding of agriculture and natural resources among students, educators, and the general public"  
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